The Lady in the Box
Ann McGovern. Turtle Books (New York, NY), $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-890515-01-0
McGovern (Playing with Penguins) writes a touching story from the perspective of Ben, a boy who, with his older sister, brings food and a warm scarf to Dorrie, a homeless woman living in a box outside their neighborhood deli. When the store's owner bans Dorrie from the sidewalk, the children's mother convinces him to let the woman return to her space by a heat grate. Ben convincingly shares his thoughts and observations, as when he smiles at Dorrie: ""I thought she smiled back. Maybe she didn't. Maybe I just wished she had."" While some of the portraits of the children and their new friend are affecting, Backer's (Emma and the Night Dogs) textured oil paintings are inconsistent. On some pages, images and characters' faces are sharp and lifelike, on others they appear blurry and undefined. Still, this is a worthy collaboration that illuminates the realities of homeless life and offers no happy, pat conclusion. Ben sounds the heartening note that the smallest kindnesses can make a difference. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) FYI: The book is also available in a Spanish hardcover edition, La senora de la caja de carton.
Reviewed on: 06/02/1997