The children in Miss Thompson’s 4th grade class knew Fran Ellen Smith as a smelly, “thumb sucker.” The only thing that makes life bearable was the bears’ house, a dolls house the children could play with when they finished their work. It was Fran Ellen’s refuge from her own fatherless home, where the children tried to manage without help from their mentally-ill mother.
Marilyn gives an overview of the book:
I was born in the Bronx, New York City. The street I lived on had no trees or flowers, but it had children – lots and lots of children. The street didn’t go anywhere important, and cars seldom came through. In the summertime, it was frequently closed to traffic.