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"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them."
Summary: Lily loved walking home from school. Pretty days, rainy days, it didn't matter. But one day, she bumped into a man selling a newspaper. He was not very neat, and Lily was scared. Scared enough that she didn't want to walk home anymore. She never explained it to her mom, she just insisted she wanted to ride the bus from now on. But then came the first snow, and it was too tempting! Lily forgot her fear, until she sees the Paper Man again. She is scared, but she keeps thinking about the Paper Man standing in the cold with no socks. What can she do? This picture book story introduces children to homelessness, empathy, and creating change.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, easy reader, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Reading Level: 2.9
Age of Child: Started reading with girl nearly 7 years old.
Young Reader Reaction: Like Lily, our daughter was put off by the Paper Man. It took quite a bit of encouragement for her to read this story with us. After several attempts, we just started reading and eventually she sat down beside us. When we finished, she wanted to immediately read it again, trading in a new book to read this a second time. We have read this book a lot since then.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an exceptional story. It effectively introduces personal hardship, empathy, and kindness without overplaying any one of those themes. The author said so much more by NOT going overboard with text or explanation. For example, you won't find any conversation about why Ray is selling papers or why Lily's parents buy the paper. The Paper Man himself is well illustrated. He represents a homeless character, but his image is not so scary that children will be frightened. Although there are no references to holidays, this book has great potential as a holiday story, reminding us the "reason for the season."
Pros: This picture book offers important lessons in a story that also encourages kids to think beyond themselves.
Cons: None. We hope the author writes more stories like these.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a beautiful book with a wonderful story. As kids grow and experience more of the world, the message will become richer for them. This would be an excellent book to share as part of a kid-driven community service project (like Coats for Kids, adopting a family, etc.).
Educational Themes: This is a book that can grow with your child. You can enjoy the story on its face, or you can further explore the themes of homelessness, helping others, community service, and selflessness. Lily gave Ray a quilt her grandmother made her. Ask your kids what they would be willing to share to help others.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 4.7
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, life lessons
Date(s) Reviewed: September 2008
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