Joseph Michtom lives in Brooklyn with his family during the summer of 1903. His only wish is to visit the new amusement park at Coney Island, but his family is too busy. As Russian immigrants, Joseph's family struggled with the others until his father sold the first stuffed toy bear. Now the family can't keep up with the demand for toy bears and Joseph feels his childhood being sucked away by their good fortune.
Through the eyes of Joseph Michtom with some inserted insight from orphans living under the bridge, Karen Hesse brings turn of the century Brooklyn to life. She shows the joys and struggles of that period in history. It is through the experience of the Michtom family and Joseph's own coming of age, that we see the culture and people of a growing and advancing America. Brooklyn Bridge brings a tween's perspective of this period of American history.