word craft


Punch with Judy

Punch with Judy

illus. by Emi­ly Lisker
Brad­bury Press, 1993

buy the book 

audio book nar­rat­ed by 
John­ny Heller

if you liked this book, try:

What’s this book about?

An out­cast young boy, orphaned by the Civ­il War, is tak­en in by the own­er of a trav­el­ing med­i­cine show and, despite the doubts of oth­ers, con­firms the man’s faith in him and his talents.

The boy is a starv­ing orphan liv­ing on the streets when Mr. McSneed puts him in a trav­el­ing med­i­cine show and calls him “Punch.” Now he’s Punch with Judy and, it turns out, that’s all that matters—if only he can make it last, when every­one around them is against them.

Story Behind the Story

When I was a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin (Madi­son) my focus was the­atre. As it hap­pened, the The­atre Depart­ment orga­nized a group of stu­dents to per­form Oth­el­lo, Shakespeare’s great tragedy in schools through­out the large state of Wis­con­sin. This was, to put it mild­ly, a deeply edit­ed ver­sion of the play, which, when we per­formed it, last­ed only one hour. Nor­mal­ly, it should take two to three hours.

I was brought on just as stage man­ag­er, because it was well known among my the­atre pals that I was a bad actor. For one thing, I could not remem­ber lines.

read more


“Avi … cre­ates a dark, eerie world as back­drop for his somber nar­ra­tive; while the sto­ry starts slow­ly, it even­tu­al­ly becomes an absorb­ing tale cen­tered around Punch’s unre­quit­ed love for Judy. This belea­guered pro­tag­o­nist engen­ders such sym­pa­thy that read­ers will cheer him on through his many predica­ments. Lisker’s stark black-and-white spot illus­tra­tions suit the nov­el­’s melan­choly tone.”

buy the book 
if you liked this book, try: