Books by Marni Backer

Released: Sept. 1, 1997

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. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >