March 25, 2018


The Old Man by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois delicately and powerfully tackles issues of homelessness and poverty in an urban setting.

It's an average day as people wake up in their small town and get ready to go about their days. They head out to work and school, and it's time for the old man to wake up, too, but he lives in vastly different circumstances than those around him. He's homeless and cannot remember his name. With the cold weather and the constant feeling of hunger in his belly, the old man has to find his way through life. He must walk with all his belongings to stay warm and eat from the garbage to stay fed, too afraid to visit a shelter because he cannot remember who he is. It's only when a little girl stops by and offers him some food that he finds renewed hope and identity and manages to find a place for himself at the local homeless shelter.

This book is fascinating in so many ways. It's very sparsely worded for the most part and the text is factual, allowing the illustrations to provide much of the emotional storytelling. With illustrations that are blurry enough to make them universal but detailed enough to give readers a sense of the setting, Dubois does a spectacular job of silhouetting each image on the page. As we look at this silhouettes we feel as isolated as the Old Man feels. Notice how he very seldom appears on the same page as any of the other characters and most of the illustrations are rendered in grays and blues to further convey both the coldness of the weather and the coldness of the Old Man's situation. No one wants to help this Old Man and every moment of his day is a struggle to stay alive. There is hope at the end, though, when the girl helps him remember his name, and though this is a tough read, it's a stellar way of showcasing how a little gesture can go a long way.

The Old Man published back in January from Gecko Press.

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