When you head to the library or bookstore this weekend with the kiddos, keep an eye out for A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning and illustrated by Elaine Pedlar. This picture book, appropriate for ages 6-9, will create conversations about poverty, fear, hope, gratitude, and many more on a subject rarely discussed beyond casual commentary.
This picture book is an eye-opening look at the outward reality and inward thoughts of a girl who lives with her mom in their car. Readers will see a family struggling with grit and determination and love. Zettie and her mama moved to the United States from Jamaica. Zettie’s father recently passed away. And so the story follows them through a day. It follows Zettie’s confrontation with a group of bullies, it shows two interactions with law enforcement – one positive and one not, it explores friendship with others who are homeless, and it ultimately ends with hope.
This book will open eyes and hearts. The illustrations are reminiscent of artist David Bates. Pedlar captures raw emotion in the faces of Zettie and her Mama in such a way as to stretch the tension, deepen empathy, and reinforce the family bond between mother-daughter as they navigate the highs and lows of their homelessness.