The Can Man

The Can Man by Laura E. Williams, illustrated by Craig Orback

Tim wants a skateboard for his birthday but his family can’t afford to buy him one right now.  So when Tim sees the Can Man collecting cans to earn money, Tim realizes that he can do that to earn money for his skateboard.  Tim gathers cans with great energy, finally getting seven bags which should be more than enough for his skateboard.  On the final day he can collect cans, it is pouring rain.  The Can Man is out with his grocery cart collecting too, though he admits to Tim that he hasn’t found many cans lately.  Time explains that he is going to use the can money for a skateboard.  When he asks the Can Man what he’s collecting for, he learns that he needs the money for a warm coat.  The Can Man helps Tim bring the bags of cans to the redemption center.  After redeeming the cans for money though, Tim sees the Can Man walking away and knows just what he should do.  He runs outside and gives the Can Man all of the money he made.  On his birthday, Tim finds a package outside his door.  Inside is a skateboard.  Not a brand new one, but one that will work just fine and even has a fresh coat of paint, thanks to the Can Man.

Williams has taken what could have been a didactic moral tale and turned it instead into a fresh story about kindness and community.  Her text has a warmth to it that makes the story relatable, bringing the issue of homelessness and poverty directly into a child-eye view.  Orback’s illustrations reflect the same honesty as the words.  His paintings glow with a warm light and offer a realistic view of the neighborhood the story is set in. 

Bravo for a book that brings social concerns to children without lecturing!  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Lee & Low Books.

Also reviewed by A Psych Mommy and  BookDragon.

Back to Bed, Ed!

Back to Bed, Ed! by Sebastien Braun

Ed enjoys all that leads up to going to bed: playing with Dad, taking a bath, story with Mom, and getting tucked in.  But once he was alone in the dark, he didn’t like it any more.  So he would tiptoe out to his parents’ bedroom and climb in their bed to sleep.  The problem was that his parents weren’t getting much sleep at all with him in there.  Finally after sleeping through the alarm and getting up much too late, his parents decided that he could not sleep with them any more.  Dad tucked him back into bed and made sure his nightlight was on.  But still Ed could not stay in bed – that is, he couldn’t stay in bed until all of his stuffed animals joined him.

Braun’s book design is a joy to read.  His round headed mice are charming as are the humorous touches he puts in the illustrations.  From the baby dumping out its food unnoticed in the background to the favorite stuffed rabbit with the alarmed look on its face at all times, Braun has created a complete world here.  His writing is a great length for young listeners who may also be dealing with being scared at bedtime.  The writing too has a sense of humor and place.

Recommended for any family transitioning out of a family bed (planned or unplanned), all children will enjoy entering this world of friendly mice.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Peachtree Publishers.