Lily and the Paper Man

Lily and Paper Man9781897187197_p0_v1_s260x420Lily and the Paper Man

Rebecca Upjohn, Author

Renée Benoit, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, 2007

Suitable for Ages: 4 and up

Themes: Homelessness, Hunger, Compassion

Opening“Shall we take the bus home today?”  Lily’s mother asks.  Lily peers from under her umbrella.  “Let’s walk.  I like the rain.”  She takes her mother’s hand to cross the street.  Her mother goes around the puddles.  Lily skips through them.

Synopsis:  During her walk home, Lily backs into a scraggly looking man who is selling newspapers.  His clothing is ragged and he is soaked from the rain.  Lily is frightened.  Her mother gives the man a dollar and thanks him for the paper.  Lily and her mother have many encounters with the man outside a favorite shop.  But as the seasons change, Lily begins to see him differently.  Winter arrives and she sees that his coat is thin and has holes.  The soles on his shoes reveal bare toes peeking through the ends.  He has no gloves or hat and his ears are red from the cold.  Lily is so concerned about the paper man, that the images of him on the street makes her toss and turn in bed — until she comes up with an idea.

Why I like this book:   There are very few children’s books about the homeless.   Rebecca Upjohn tells a compelling and heartwarming story about how a little girl makes a difference for one man.  Children by nature are compassionate and want to help, and this is a perfect book to talk about the many kinds of homelessness.  There is a lovely marriage between art and text in this beautiful story. Renée Benoit’s illustrations are vivid and evoke a lot of compassion from the reader.

Resources:  This is a good discussion book with kids.  What would you do if you saw some one in great need?  There are many activities kid can do to help the homeless:  donate to local food pantries, donate clothing and toiletry items, books, clean toys to shelters.  Visit Rebecca Upjohn’s website where she has a teacher page of suggested activities and resources to use with children in the classroom.


Perfect Picture Book Friday will go on vacation after today’s post.  It will resume in September.  I will cut back on my posts this summer, but will continue to post some picture books,  middle grade and young adult reviews.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

35 thoughts on “Lily and the Paper Man

  1. What a great find. I don’t think I have seen another picture book about the homeless, yet most urban kids will encounter them; I love this.

    • Joanna, you’d love this book. You are right, there are very few books out there that tackle this subject with kids. But, I’ve found a few. Loved this one! I remember taking my daughter to NYC for the first time when she was 8 yrs old and she was very upset by the homeless on the street. She wanted to give everything she had away. Kids are very sensitive and compassionate.

    • Sue, I’ve been searching for a long time to find a PB for kids on homelessness. This one is an excellent introduction for kids. I found a few more I’m going to share that are about the subject and hunger.

    • Jarm, glad you liked my choice. I have been searching for books on homelessness for kids. Just found a wonderful workbook on homelessness and hunger for kids. Great for parents and teachers.

      • So glad you’re impressed with the offerings of Canadian publishers! (I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even notice this came from a Canadian publisher.) Canadian publishing houses have limited resources so only publish a few titles per year — so I guess the ones that make it are top of the line!

  2. I always felt there was an absence of books about homelessness for kids. I actually shopped a manuscript about a homeless mom and daughter around for a while. Nothing. I’m going to take another look at it.

    • Oh, how I’ve searched. I have some other ones and a kids workbook. But this story is a great introduction to homelessness for kids. Think you should re-evaluate your story and resubmit. You have to look at the smaller presses. Also, times have changed and it there are people who are homeless for other reasons.

  3. For a start, I love the title. And then I love the cover, and then I love the idea. Such an important topic. And you are so right, Patricia, children are taught to fear the homeless.

    • That’s why kids need exposure through books so parents and teachers can talk about the subject. More people are homeless now for other reasons. Great school classroom projects can be done.

  4. This sounds really sweet, and I would have appreciated this growing up just outside NYC. My parents reminded me not to look the homeless in the eye as a child, and later I could understand their reasoning, but back then I was only frightened and misinformed.

  5. Beautiful book, and review, with such a compassionate theme! Funny, homelessness was an idea I had quite some time ago and never got around to doing anything about it… mmm… might have to look at it. Thanks for brining it to light, Pat. Have a great summer and downtime. Our floor heating is on and the shortest day is in a weeks time… yay! 🙂

    • Diane, it really is a book that I feel kids will feel comfortable with. I’ve searched for books on this subject and only found a few. Yes, it’s been on my list too but haven’t done anything with it. You’re approaching the winter solstice and approaching the summer. Have a great winter down under.

    • It is a beautiful book that kids really can connect to. I’ve been searching for picture books on this subject and there are very few. This is a gem. I appreciate your taking a moment to visit my blog — it’s a resource for parents trying to find books to help their kids through tough times.

  6. Wow. This book is so beautifully illustrated and, of course, so needed. It is a subject that came up so often when my kids were young. How wonderful to have it as a resource before-hand so your children are more compassionate when they meet someone in a bad situation. Thank-you.

    • Joanne, I agree. Wish I had this book when my daughter was young. She would have given away everything she owned when we took her to NYC. She had never had seen homeless people living on the streets and it upset her. Never thought to prepare her. This book is really needed. I also found a gread Kid’s Guide to Hunger and Homelessnes — will post something soon about this book. Great for teachers, parents and youth group workers to help kids get involved in helping.

  7. What a great topic. I love the cover and the message! I would see homeless people or beggars when we would go into Philadelphia. My mom said that our family donates to places where people can get food and one place where people can get clothes and job training.

    • I’m glad you liked the book, Erik. And, I’m happy that your family is involved with helping the homeless. Found a workbook/guide I’m going to share tomorrow for kids 10-17 on hunger and homelessness. It is such a great book to use in the classroom and in youth groups. Hope you check out my blog tomorrow.

  8. We don’t have any homeless people in Glen Rose, but we do have a lot of families in need. And I see homeless people on my trips to the big city. And with all the recent disasters in our area there are a lot of people who have lost their homes. It all gives kids a lot to think about. This sounds like an excellent book. Thanks for sharing!

    • I think it is important to introduce kids to homelessness at an early. They are truly compassionate. The next step is to make them feel like they are helping through donating toys, items to church food pantires etc. I have another book I’ will share soon, as well as a YA novel.

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