A lesson in empathy: The old man

The sun is rising. Get up everyone! It's time to go to school.
It's time for the old man to get up too.
His blanket is soaked, it's been a cold night.
The old man is freezing.
He is hungry. Really hungry.

The old man is an important little book: it's a lesson in kindness and empathy, that ability to *see* the other, understanding and sharing his feelings.
We follow a little girl and a homeless elderly man throughout their daily routine and as they paths cross along the way: the girl notices the man in the end, stops her mother who is busy walking, and offers him her sandwich (and a smile).

A short, simple, apparently dark story, yet so bright, heart-warming and meaningful as it encapsulate children's lack of prejudice and great ability to see with their own eyes, looking beyond themselves and beyond their own situation.
A natural ability that must be surely nurtured and encouraged, instead of creating fear of what's other and distance.
I particularly liked the delicate, bright illustrations by Belgian artist Claude K. Dubois, the choice of  a minimalist palette of greys and sand grey to fill up the soft pencil sketches, taking the story out of a particular space-time setting, and making it universal.
That girl could be any girl.
The images work around the text enriching it with meaning, so that it becomes more than a story about an act of kindness: we see the girl as she slowly takes herself out of the daily hustle, pays attention and finally takes action, deciding to stop and get closer to the old man. 
While the narration focuses entirely on the old man's point of view, the images compose the other side of the story.
A story that deserves to be shared at this time of the year in first place, as it's not all merry and bright for everyone.

The Old Man [1st April 2018]
Words by Sarah V.
Art by Claude K. Dubois
English-language edition published by Gecko Press
Reading age: 4+
Themes: Kindness, Relationship with the others

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