Lady in the Box

Overview

It is wintertime in the city, and Christmas decorations are everywhere. But in Lizzie and Ben's neighborhood, a woman lives in a box, grateful for the warm air that escapes through a vent in the sidewalk. After watching this "lady in a box, ' the brother and sister decide to help her, despite their mother's admonition to never talk to strangers. Full color.

When Lizzie and Ben discover a homeless lady living in their neighborhood, they must reconcile their desire to ...

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Overview

It is wintertime in the city, and Christmas decorations are everywhere. But in Lizzie and Ben's neighborhood, a woman lives in a box, grateful for the warm air that escapes through a vent in the sidewalk. After watching this "lady in a box, ' the brother and sister decide to help her, despite their mother's admonition to never talk to strangers. Full color.

When Lizzie and Ben discover a homeless lady living in their neighborhood, they must reconcile their desire to help her with their mother's admonition not to talk to strangers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McGovern (Playing with Penguins) writes a touching story from the perspective of Ben, a boy who, with his older sister, brings food and a warm scarf to Dorrie, a homeless woman living in a box outside their neighborhood deli. When the store's owner bans Dorrie from the sidewalk, the children's mother convinces him to let the woman return to her space by a heat grate. Ben convincingly shares his thoughts and observations, as when he smiles at Dorrie: "I thought she smiled back. Maybe she didn't. Maybe I just wished she had." While some of the portraits of the children and their new friend are affecting, Backer's (Emma and the Night Dogs) textured oil paintings are inconsistent. On some pages, images and characters' faces are sharp and lifelike, on others they appear blurry and undefined. Still, this is a worthy collaboration that illuminates the realities of homeless life and offers no happy, pat conclusion. Ben sounds the heartening note that the smallest kindnesses can make a difference. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) FYI: The book is also available in a Spanish hardcover edition, La seora de la caja de cartn.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5A modern morality tale that never strays too far from the stark reality of homelessness while portraying the generosity and concern of two children for a stranger. Written in direct, disarming prose, Ben's story tells how he and his sister try to help the "lady in the box" who keeps her "home" over the heating grate outside the Circle Deli. Worried, they take her gifts of food and warm clothing and eventually find out that her name is Dorrie. When the owner of the Circle Deli tries to force the woman to move, the children's mother convinces him to let her stay. The family volunteers at the soup kitchen, where they see Dorrie and she smiles and says hello. It's a nice moment as the boy realizes that he has made a difference in someone else's life. Backer's oil illustrations effectively portray both the cold and snow of a city winter and the warmth of the homeless woman's smile as she receives the small acts of kindness. Only fleetingly related to Christmas since it's set during the season, this is nonetheless a fitting story to tell during a time so often filled with excesses.
Kirkus Reviews
Ben, who appears to be about eight, describes how he and his sister bring food to a homeless woman, Dorrie, thereby bending their mother's rules about talking to strangers—or at least interpreting them widely. Their mother catches on to the missing food and warm scarf: "Okay, let's see your lady in the box," she says. All Dorrie wants is to be allowed to sleep over the warm grate near the deli, whose owner has chased her away; Ben's mother appeals to the owner's sense of charity and Dorrie is restored to her spot. Further, the children start serving food at a neighborhood soup kitchen. Realistic and believable, the story introduces a vast world of homelessness in simple, telling details that are enlarged upon in the art, e.g., a particularly effective picture shows that the people in the soup line are only too accustomed to waiting. Backer uses various techniques to delineate the tone of every scene, sometimes loosely sketching a detail in a thick application of oil paint, sometimes using small, dense flecks to depict snow and the frigid isolation of the conditions outdoors. For readers who witness homelessness every day, the book answers questions, carrying the message that even for large problems, small efforts can make a difference.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890515157
  • Publisher: Turtle Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: Illustrate
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.45 (w) x 10.44 (h) x 0.16 (d)

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