The Can Man

( 1 )

Overview

Tim's birthday is just a week away, and more than anything he wants a skateboard. But money is tight, and Tim knows his family cannot afford to buy him a board.

As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man's cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his ...

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Overview

Tim's birthday is just a week away, and more than anything he wants a skateboard. But money is tight, and Tim knows his family cannot afford to buy him a board.

As Tim ponders how he might earn money for a skateboard, he hears The Can Man down the street collecting empty soft drink cans. The clang of the cans in the homeless man's cart gives Tim an idea. He will collect cans too, and cash them in for the redemption money. By the end of the week, Tim has almost reached his goal—until a couple of chance encounters with The Can Man change everything.

Told with honesty and respect, this timely story shines a perceptive light on current social concerns. Readers will be encouraged to think beyond themselves and celebrate the simple acts of kindness and sharing that make a difference in people's lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Williams's (The Best Winds) poignant story, Tim wants a skateboard badly, but money is tight. Watching a homeless man everyone calls the Can Man (except Tim's parents, who remember when he used to live in their building and still call him by name) collect cans to redeem for cash, Tim decides to do the same to bankroll his skateboard. As he encroaches on the man's turf, Tim suppresses flashes of guilt—especially when the man says he hopes to buy a new coat “before the snow starts flying.” After the Can Man offers his shopping cart to help Tim transport his cans to the redemption center, the boy hands him the money he's made. In an emotional final scene, Tim receives a skateboard that the Can Man has refurbished and personalized for him. Orback's (Hot Pursuit: Murder in Mississippi) realistic oil paintings on canvas bring the tale's urban setting into clear focus in warmly lit scenes that illuminate the characters' feelings—notably Tim's unease and his beneficiary's gratitude—and readily transmit the weighty themes at work. Ages 5-10. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Tim is friendly with Mr. Peters, a homeless man who collects cans in his neighborhood. He knows that Mr. Peters has lived in his apartment building before he lost his job. Tim's birthday is approaching, but his dad has told him there will be no money to buy a skateboard as a present. Tim decides that gathering cans could be a way to earn money to buy the skateboard himself. He goes out early each morning and rummages through trash cans. Tim tells Mr. Peters about his goal for the cans and learns that Mr. Peters is hoping to buy a coat before winter settles in. Tim gathers seven bags of cans and Mr. Peters helps him take them to the redemption center in his empty cart. It has started to snow when Tim gets the coins for the cans. As he leaves he sees Mr. Peters down the block pulling his ragged coat around his shoulders. Tim runs to catch up and gives his bag of coins to the homeless man. The next morning Mr. Peters, wearing a new coat, brings Tim a used skateboard that he has found and refurbished. The realistic illustrations portray the actions and emotions of the predictable story well. This is a possible springboard for discussions with primary-aged children. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Joe Peters, "The Can Man," lived in Tim's building until the auto body shop where he worked closed. Unable to find a job, he's now homeless and relies on the cash he gets from redeeming empty cans to survive. When Tim learns that his parents won't have enough money to buy him a skateboard for his birthday, he takes his cue from The Can Man and decides to earn the money himself. However, while he amasses several bags of cans, The Can Man finds almost nothing. Tim has been venturing out ahead and collecting in the homeless man's territory. Joe Peters harbors no hard feelings, though, and even helps Tim at the redemption center. But when the boy weighs his skateboard against the man's urgent need for a winter coat, he gives him the money. The lengthy text describes the homeless man's situation without judgment, and Tim's parents don't pressure him to stop encroaching on Mr. Peters's turf, leaving him free to make his own decisions. The large illustrations, rendered in oil, depict an urban neighborhood of shops and multiethnic apartment dwellers. Pair the book with Ann McGovern's The Lady in the Box (Turtle, 1997) to help students consider the human face of homelessness.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600602665
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 298,272
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Lexile: AD630L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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