By Tyree McMillan
“Let’s go inside and see if the queen is here.” This is an excerpt from the book in the August Box box called, A Place to Stay, A Shelter Story by Erin Gunti . This story for lower elementary kids discusses homelessness and the need for shelter in a way that kids can easily understand.
The book starts off with a Mother and Daughter having to go to a shelter. The Daughter is reluctant about staying in the shelter, however the Mother tries and succeeds in finding ways to distract the Daughter from the reality of their situation. The Mother finds ways that interest the Daughter to bring light and positivity to their current situation. She tells her Daughter that the shelter building is a palace, the kitchen is a banquet hall, and the shower is deep-sea diving. This gives the Daughter some happiness and enjoyment within their current predicament and helps her come to terms with them having no home for the night. The ambiguous ending allows and encourages the reader to create their own ideas around how the Mother and Daughter continue their lives.
In my opinion, Estelí Meza’s illustrations are TOP TIER! They catch the eye of the reader (especially me!). The drawings are unique but still have a child’s interest at heart. The pictures and the drawing are not generic art that was put there just to be put there; the art corresponds with the theme of the book amazingly. Especially the shower scene where the child was apprehensive about the shower and the Mother said they were deep-sea diving, the art changed into a ocean scene that was beautiful to look at. The book’s theme can be seen as “the innocence of a child can make a bad situation a bit better” or “a child sees the world in a whole different light than adults do”.
The issue of homelessness is a very important issue that affects many families. Homelessness affects 25% of people in the world, and out of that about 100,000 million children are homeless. However, at the end of the book, it mentions how a person can be in a shelter for more things than just homelessness. They reference how people can be in shelters due to natural disasters, unexpected bills or their home being unsafe. The book explains this in a way that can easily be understood by a child who might be a little older, but a younger child can still grasp the topic if a caretaker works with them on it.
I believe this book is very good for starting to teach your child about homelessness and the truths behind it. I have nothing bad to say about this book! It has a child’s best interest at heart and is made for children perfectly. My little cousin loves the illustrations and grasps the topic pretty well for a 3, going on 4, year old. So in the end, HUGE kudos to the Gunti and Meza for creating this story, because they did a wonderful job!