Solomon Snow and the Silver Spoon by Kaye Umansky is a wonderful children’s or young adult adventure which sets forth the early life and times of Solly, who is a foundling in search of his true identity, inheritance and real parents.
Umansky’s setting is a wretched old tumbledown cottage atop of a moor just outside a village named Boring. The cottage is the home of a young boy named Solomon Snow. Each day he works tediously for Ma and Pa Scubbins’s washing business.
His adoptive father Arnold is seen nightly smoking a strong cigar and batting the pipe ashes into the homey fireplace. The Scubbinses are simple people who don’t use cutlery. Each day, Solly passes the school yard where Mrs. Starch rings the morning bell.
Umansky tells how every evening, Solly would consume a bowl of messy soup. The preparation is vegetable based. It sticks to the teeth and has a taste akin to boiled stinging nettles. Solly wishes only for a simple spoon to eat food. He is unpleasantly surprised to learn that he’s a foundling child. He was abandoned a decade ago on the Scubbinses’ doorstep in a laundry basket with a silver spoon protruding from his mouth.
Umansky’s book shifts back and forth from Solly’s difficult life to the lives of Lord Charles and Lady Elvira who may very well be Solly’s parents. The rich couple bemoan the disappearance of their son on a daily basis.
When Solly was first discovered, the only things that were on him were a silk-like cloth and a silver spoon. Solly uses the cloth as a napkin now. Months earlier, his newly found father Arnold pawned the spoon to buy Solomon shoes. The spoon is the only way Solomon can find out the identity of his real parents.
Despite the fact that the utensil was long ago pawned by Pa, Solly sets out in all haste to find his spoon, his parents from birth, and an inheritance that is his for the asking. Joining him on this quixotic quest are a pair of unusual companions including a tall bossy writer named Prudence Pridy and the insufferable blue-eyed Infant Prodigy (Pwodigy). She is like a circus performer with a strong grip and some well-rehearsed routines. Prodigy also has a gap-toothed smile and a sexy manner of batting her eyelashes to command attention.
The story is very similar to Oliver Twist. Solly’s experience parallels that of Oliver, who suffers innumerable humiliations after he dares to request more food. The chance to find a new life arises when Oliver escapes somehow to London. There, he befriends a gang of young thieves led by the despicable Fagin.
Solomon Snow and the Silver Spoon is an engaging book which can be read in a few short sessions. The author teaches us very important lessons about how the poor struggle just to stay alive in a world with very limited resources and pockets of extreme poverty.