The Lunch Thief: A Story of Hunger, Homelessness and Friendship

The Lunch Thief: A Story of Hunger, Homelessness and Friendship

The Lunch Thief: A Story of Hunger, Homelessness and Friendship

The Lunch Thief: A Story of Hunger, Homelessness and Friendship


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*Skipping Stones Honor Award*

Rafael is hungry—because someone stole his lunch.

The Lunch Thief can be used for curriculum centered on nonviolence and peacemaking.

Discussions might include:

  • How to turn an enemy into a friend
  • Nonviolent communication skills  • Looks can be deceiving
  • Wildfires and ecology
  • Disaster relief
  • Hunger in our own country
  • Homelessness
  • Food Insecurity
  • Kindness/Bullying


His mom had packed his lunch bag with two burritos, a bag of corn chips, some carrots, and an apple. Once a week she tucks in a slice of her special lemon pound cake. Rafael saw Kevin, a new kid in his class, sneak his lunch bag from underneath his desk and tuck it in his backpack. But how can he do something about the theft without picking a fight? Inspired by his mother's advice to “Use your mouth before your fists,” Rafael bides his time, but other kids' lunches are disappearing,too. On an errand with his mom, Rafael sees Kevin carrying a bundle of laundry into a motel room, and his mom tells him Kevin's family might be one of the families who lost their homes in the recent wildfires. Rafael rethinks his anger. The next day, instead of accusing Kevin, Rafael invites him to share his lunch, letting Kevin know he's been caught, but offering friendship as well as lunch.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780884488378
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Publication date: 05/26/2020
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 176,960
Product dimensions: 8.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Anne C. Bromley lives in Encinitas, California, with her husband Rod. She is a business-writing instructor and consultant who teaches seminars throughout southern California. She has also taught creative-writing workshops for children and for adults. Anne has published two books of poetry with Carnegie Mellon University Press. She has both Master of Fine Arts and Master of Education degrees. Anne enjoys hiking in the high desert of Joshua Tree National Park, strolling along Swami's Beach at sunset, and observing the wildlife of her beach-town neighborhood—feral cats, raccoons,opossums, an occasional coyote, and surfers. Inspired by her experiences as a substitute teacher in northern San Diego County, The Lunch Thief is her first children's book.

Robert Casilla, born in Jersey City, New Jersey, to parents from Puerto Rico, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He works from his home studio in New Fairfield, Connecticut, where he lives with his wife and two children. Robert has illustrated many multicultural children's books such as The Little Painter of Sabana Grande, Jalapeño Bagels, The Legend of Mexicatl, and Con Mi Hermano/With My Brother. He has also illustrated a number of biographies, including ones about Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and Simón Bolívar.


An Interview with Author Anne C. BromleyWhy did you write about the San Diego fires? Fire is to San Diego County as snow is to Maine: a fact of life. It is said that when Cabrillo landed at Point Loma in 1598, he saw smoke rising from the distant eastern foothills. He'd arrived during the fire season (roughly August through early November). Some fire seasons are worse than others, and the firestorms of 2003 and 2007 are, so far, the most extreme on record. Everyone is affected, whether one sees flames leaping across a freeway or one breathes air so toxic, one must wear a surgical mask. So fire is in the back of our minds, and it seemed appropriate to use the fire and its impact on Kevin's life as a way to "explain" his odd behavior and to lead Rafael to a better understanding.What is your connectionto the fires? I lived within ten minutes of the fire line (I live on the coast). The smoke filled my lungs. I did not see flames, but I had an evacuation pack ready at the front door. The Reverse 911 call was always possible. I had friends in the East County who were evacuated and one whose trailer burned.What do you like about this manuscript? Rafael has a strong narrative voice that drives the story forward at a fast clip. Repetition (several days of stolen lunches) draws the reader into the action. Symbols (the lemon cake; the quarter) and a contemporary situation (the wildfires forcing people to be relocated) add depth to the story. The story is structured so that Rafael can resolve the conflict in a manner that is satisfying and shows character growth: he has turned an enemy into a potential friend, and he comes to realize that appearances and behavior can be deceiving.What is the significance of Kevin offering Rafael a quarter in the last line? Kevin is happy to have lunch, BUT he will not accept charity. He's too proud for that.What else can you tell us about the book that would be helpful? I believe that young readers will gain a great deal from this book. In addition to offering a good story and characters they can relate to, the book presentsissues for them to ponder and discuss: the perils of easy judgment; the effects of circumstances on behavior; how to turn someone who seems like an enemy into a potential friend through empathy and understanding.

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