Avi author writer
Poppy's Return Nothing But the Truth Crispin Cross of Lead True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Catch You Later, Traitor Avi author writer
Punch with Judy
illus. by Emily Lisker
Bradbury Press, 1993
more comedy
more historical
Punch with Judy

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.

Behind the Book

Avi writes: I recall seeing a French movie—I can’t recall what it was—in which sadness and humor were intertwined. You never knew whether to laugh or cry. As a story teller that really interested me. As a result, I tried to think of how I could tell a story that would have the same effect. In time I composed a story about a group of traveling performers, who, when they tried to be funny, were pretty sad. But, when they were sad, it was funny. Punch with Judy is the result. In some ways, it’s a rather odd book, but I think I achieved what I set out to do. Will it make you laugh or cry? Hopefully, both.


“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.”

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