I am madly trying to get in the last few Paris books left in the pile before the end of April!
Natalie Savage Carlson's 1959 Newbery classic The Family Under the Bridge may not be on your radar but it should be.
In Paris, congenial Armand is a self-proclaimed hobo and likes it that way. He professes that living free without any obligations is how he wants to spend his days. He definitely does not want any children messing things up. That is, until he meets a recently homeless (and fatherless) family living under his bridge during the frigid Christmas season. While the mother works during the day, Armand takes the children around Paris. They manage to worm their way into his heart (which was never as hard as he pretended it to be) until finally he decides to sacrifice, get a job (don't worry, not a taxing one) and warm home for his new found family.
This is a delightful, sensitive, and touching story with lots of great Paris details. The busy workings of the city are woven into the text. The magical adventures include: watching crepes being made (again with the food!), gypsy fortunes being told in Notre Dame square, walking along the Seine next to ancient buildings, visiting the chaotic food market, a Christmas service under the Tournelle Bridge, and many, many other tantalizing visits to other Parisian locations.
A great read aloud for children ages 5/6 and up, or a read alone for ages 8/9 and up.
Read a longer review at Books 4 Your Kids.
The image of Armand as a "happy homeless" should be tempered with some discussion about the stark realities of homelessness.
Just go ahead and book your tickets to Paris right now. You know you want to.
Big Kid says: Why didn't he want to live in a house?