From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5. A modern morality tale that never strays too far from the stark reality of homelessness while portraying the generosity and concern of two children for a stranger. Written in direct, disarming prose, Ben's story tells how he and his sister try to help the "lady in the box" who keeps her "home" over the heating grate outside the Circle Deli. Worried, they take her gifts of food and warm clothing and eventually find out that her name is Dorrie. When the owner of the Circle Deli tries to force the woman to move, the children's mother convinces him to let her stay. The family volunteers at the soup kitchen, where they see Dorrie and she smiles and says hello. It's a nice moment as the boy realizes that he has made a difference in someone else's life. Backer's oil illustrations effectively portray both the cold and snow of a city winter and the warmth of the homeless woman's smile as she receives the small acts of kindness. Only fleetingly related to Christmas since it's set during the season, this is nonetheless a fitting story to tell during a time so often filled with excesses.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Ben, who appears to be about eight, describes how he and his sister bring food to a homeless woman, Dorrie, thereby bending their mother's rules about talking to strangers--or at least interpreting them widely. Their mother catches on to the missing food and warm scarf: ``Okay, let's see your lady in the box,'' she says. All Dorrie wants is to be allowed to sleep over the warm grate near the deli, whose owner has chased her away; Ben's mother appeals to the owner's sense of charity and Dorrie is restored to her spot. Further, the children start serving food at a neighborhood soup kitchen. Realistic and believable, the story introduces a vast world of homelessness in simple, telling details that are enlarged upon in the art, e.g., a particularly effective picture shows that the people in the soup line are only too accustomed to waiting. Backer uses various techniques to delineate the tone of every scene, sometimes loosely sketching a detail in a thick application of oil paint, sometimes using small, dense flecks to depict snow and the frigid isolation of the conditions outdoors. For readers who witness homelessness every day, the book answers questions, carrying the message that even for large problems, small efforts can make a difference. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.