Title: The Lunch Thief
Author: Anne C. Bromley
Illustrator: Robert Casilla
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers; First hardcover edition (June 15, 2010)
Audience: ages 8 and up
Summary: “Hey Rafael, how come you’re not eating?” asks my best friend Alfredo. “I forgot my lunch,” I lie. Someone is stealing lunches from the children in school and Rafael knows who it is – the new kid named Kevin. Rather than start a fight or call Kevin out, Rafael chooses to find out why. What he learns is a lesson on homelessness and childhood hunger that is prevalent today in our nation and world. Rafael’s solution is both moving and mature as he reaches out to Kevin in a way that is both honorable, respectful, and one that ultimately builds a friendship.
Literary elements at work in the story: Written in first person gives us an opportunity to view hunger from a close-up perspective rather than a set of statistics. What we learn is that when we allow ourselves to look beneath the surface at the person rather than standing in judgment of their situation, we open ourselves to the possibilities of forming real solutions that are compassionate, respectful, and full of God’s love.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The names and illustrations in this book reflect a regional influence that is widely diversified. In Mrs. Miller’s school classroom are children of all ethnic backgrounds. In a reversal of stereotypical roles, Bromley breaks our pre-conceived notions of homelessness and hunger in this country allowing us to open our minds to following Rafael’s lead in solutions that are real and personal.
Theological Conversation Partners: In John 6:35, Jesus said to the crowd of people around him, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever belies in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus saw the hunger and poverty that surrounded him, but it was not until he used the words, “I was hungry” (Matthew 25:35-40) to open the eyes of his disciples, did they begin to see for themselves that they were called to make a difference in the world. Jesus personalized the human need and challenged us to personalize the solutions in order to help those in need. We must first see the person and learn the “why.” Only then can we work to be effective in our solving of suffering and injustice in the world. When Rafael learns that the fire in a neighboring county has forced a family to flee their home and live in a motel because they lost everything, he is filled with compassion and understanding that allows him to act in a way that preserves Kevin’s dignity. Jesus calls us to work for the good of all in ways that are personal and honorable.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What do you know about the ministries in your community that are helping to feed the hungry and house the homeless? What can you do to help?
- How can you show compassion to someone in need that preserves their dignity and helps build a foundation for friendship?
- Read Matthew 25:35-40. How should Jesus’ words influence the way you treat people in need?
This review is written by regular contributor Krista Lovell.
The Lunch Thief by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.