Remi by Hector Malot
The events in the month of April when I was eight years old are not as momentous in my memory as the story I read for a week, every lunchtime after the meal until it was time to go back to school. (In the Netherlands in those years school children generally went home for lunch.)
The neighbour’s where I had that meal that week had an old copy of Remi by Hector Malot (translated into Dutch from French) leather-bound in old green. The pages were thick and yellowed, fluffy from use at the edges.
Remi, at eight years old, discovers he was a foundling when the man he thought of as his father sells him to Monsieur Vitalis for forty francs. M Vitalis was a street performer, we would say now, who owned a troupe of animals. Remi helped care for them and learned to take his part in the performances. After the death of his master Remi has many more adventures finally to find a home, and be re united with his lost original family.
A few years ago I found an English translation/adaptation, by Constance Herd (1968). I was amazed and disappointed by its English meagerness though I did purchase it and it still graces my shelves.