Way Home

GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNER – 1994

Way Home

Libby Hathorn, text

Gregory Rogers, illustrations

Andersen Press, 1994

30 pp.

Age: 8+

Interests: poverty, city life, homelessness

One night a boy named Shane finds a stray kitten in a back alley and decides to take it home. After traversing many dark streets, dodging menacing figures, honking traffic and snarling dogs, the boy arrives “home”: a wooden crate in a back alley, filled with his worldly possessions.

A straightforward tale of going home, and a window into the daily life of a homeless child. Shane is resourceful and brave, going so far as to climb a tree to retrieve the frightened kitten. His chatter to the kitten give us a window into his thoughts as he observes the city, gazing in at restaurants, sportscar showrooms, and mocking a fat housecat in an apartment window.

The illustrations are dark and powerful, and effectively communicate the menace that Shane encounters, and the harshness of his life. He is a little rough, but likeable. His trip through the city is dramatic and full of danger, and really draws the reader into the story.

There’s no background information given about how Shane came to be on the street, so one is left to wonder and guess at his past. I found one amazon review from a teacher that said this book sparked much discussion and debate amongst 5th graders (age 10-ish). The language and story can certainly be followed by children younger than 8, but the menace and hardships may be unsettling for them.

If your child has seen homeless youth and wondered about them, and you think they can handle the content, this would be a great book to explore the issue further.

(This title available at amazon.com)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.