Stray to Tent A Forever Home by Gary Clark, Writer and Illustrator. Stray to Tent A Forever Home: ISBN:978-0-692-08938-5; Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Non-Fiction; National Distribution: http://www.straytotentaforeverhome.com
What a glory! A book by Gary Clark, beautifully illustrated to raise children’s awareness about homelessness in a positive loving way. It says that it is for children from the ages of 5 to 8 but really, this is a book for everybody. The gorgeous illustrations draw you into the story about homeless men and their pets. The purpose of this book is to raise the levels of compassion of children and anyone who reads it for the people who, for one reason or another, are homeless. Really, I found the book wonderful for children as it deals with “homelessness light” and doesn’t really touch on all the trauma of being homeless. The art is spectacular and it is very easy for a child to understand. I think it is best received by the child if the parent was to read it for them and talk about the pictures.
One of the things the book does not deal with is the sudden eviction of homeless people from where they are living, such as happened recently in Somerville, Massachusetts. A number of people had settled in a closed off tunnel that was under the overpass of the McGrath Highway at a ramp that had been shut down. A small group of homeless people had been living there for over a year. They were suddenly evicted and all the items they could not carry were thrown away into a dumpster. Their personal articles were taken away when they evicted the occupants from their campsite. However, the book by Gary Clark does serve its purpose and hopefully, the children that are exposed to this beautiful book will not become the teenagers that go Wilding and beat up homeless people.
One of the parts of this book that I found especially touching was when a homeless cat gets washed into a storm drain and I quote from the book, “One day, I got swept up into the water by the sewer and could not get out. I was trying very hard and I was very tired. WAS I GOING TO DROWN? “When suddenly a HAND appeared out of nowhere! I AWOKE warm and in a tent. I was at a camp of a homeless man. He lives in the woods in a tent. It was his HAND that appeared from nowhere to save me from drowning.” This is from the book Stray To Tent A Forever Home written and illustrated by Gary Clark.
This wonderful book expresses all the humanity that lives within people who are homeless. It only hints at the trauma of the experience because this is a book written for children but, as I said before, adults can learn from it too. It is meant to be shared with your child as a bonding experience both for parent and child and for the parent and child’s relationship to the world. It can make everyone who reads it more compassionate about the plight of the homeless person. At the very end of this book there is a long list of different organizations that help homeless people and how to get in touch with them. It reminded me of our Helping Hands page that is being reworked by Spare Change News. Thank you for being there for us!