Name of Book: Shelter Folks
Author: Virginia L. Kroll
Illustrator: Jan Naimo Jones
Publisher: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996
Audience: Ages 9 and up
Summary: This is the story of nine year old Joelle and her family, who have to move into a homeless shelter. While at the shelter, Joelle and her family find a loving and caring extended family/community. Joelle is ashamed at first and tries to keep her family’s situation a secret. But the secret is found out when the residents of the shelter come to see her perform in a Thanksgiving play. The residents love and support removes the shame and gives her a sense of happiness and pride.
Literary Elements at Work: Shelter Folks can be described as realistic fiction. The story is told from the perspective of a nine year old girl in first person. The girl lives in fear of others finding out that her family has moved to a homeless shelter. The plot tells how others do find out and Joelle’s reaction. The style of the story is a little “cheesy” to me having worked with homeless or shelter people. The story portrays everyone who lives at the shelter as nice, caring, cordial and even happy. I will agree that it is helpful to always have a positive outlook; it is more realistic to find homeless people upset, distrustful, fearful and even angry. I think older children may not find the story believable.
Perspective: The story is distinctive in that it brings attention to a growing problem in Charlotte – homelessness, the need for more affordable housing, homeless children and educating homeless children. It has been reported that at least 4,500 children registered in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are homeless. This story gives us a view of homelessness from a child’s point of view.
Theological Conversation Partners: This story helps start a conversation within our churches about homelessness in our community and how we may respond to it.
Biblical: Deuteronomy 15:7 – 8, 10 -11; Proverbs 3:28; Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10.
Theologically: The Confession of 1967, particularly the paragraphs below gives the church the mandate to act on behalf of the homeless. How each church or individual responds may be different, but as Disciples of Christ, we must do what we can to eliminate homelessness in our community.
9.31 – “To be reconciled to God is to be sent into the world as his reconciling community. This community, the church universal, is entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation and shares his labor of healing the enmities which separate men from God and from each other…”9.32 – “The life, death, resurrection and promised coming of Jesus Christ has set the pattern for the church’s mission…” 9.46 – “The reconciliation of man through Jesus Christ makes it plain that enslaving poverty in a world of abundance is an intolerable violation of God’s good creation. Because Jesus identified himself with the needy and exploited, the cause of the world’s poor is the cause of his disciples…”
Faith Talk Questions:
- Pretend you are Joelle’s classmate. How would you have responded when you found out that Joelle was homeless?
- Why did Joelle have a sense of pride when she saw her friends from the shelter in the audience?
- What are some reasons for homelessness? Discuss.
Today we are glad to begin a series of reviews from students on the Charlotte campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary who wrote their reviews while participating in the Children’s and Youth Literature in the Church class in the fall of 2014. Adelaide Barringer is our guest writer for today.
Shelter Folks by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.