Compassion, Kindness, Shelter
Totally enamoured by the work of Qin Leng, I have been seeking out the books on her bibliography and came across this beautiful story expertly suited for the middle of fall. It has been gloomy and bleak around here so we needed something to feel warm and cozy and Shelter written by Céline Claire and illustrated by Qin Leng was just the ticket. Originally published in French under the title L’abri, I am so glad Kids Can Press arranged for the rights to publish this gorgeous story in English.
Shelter is the story of the animals and a coming storm. They all prepare for the storm, stokking their fires and amplifying their food stores; they batten down the hatches. When two strangers appear and begin asking to share their tea in exchange for food and shelter they are unkindly turned away. However, one Little Fox offers a small kindness to the strangers which is paid back in kind when the Fox family needs a helping hand.
Shelter is a beautiful metaphor for the happenings of today. When we continually turn away people in need, people who may start as strangers but who could become fast friends we are missing out on so much richness. When we offer a small bit of kindness, generosity and compassion to those who start as strangers we can make a huge difference in another’s life. Books like Shelter are so incredibly important to share with our children. We need to instill in them a sense of compassion and kindness, of lending a hand to a stranger and being welcoming of others. Books are a great vessel for teaching. Our best teaching methods are through modeling and providing stories to children to help them understand these grand concepts.
As always, Qin Leng’s magical watercolour and ink illustrations bring out the richness of the text and offer many talking points throughout the story. The cross section drawings of all the animal houses, while still seeing the strangers outside, show the reader how unkindly and unfairly the strangers are treated by the other animals. Her illustrations provide discussion points and points to stop and investigate, enabling the reader to do a deep dive into the messages in the story.
Shelter is a book to not only share with young children, but is also a book to share with older children and young adults who will derive so much more meaning from the message.