The stranger turned away is the one who opens his door.
Author: Celine Claire
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2017
Written for Ages: 3-6
Summary: As storm approaches, all the animals seek shelter in their homes. Little Fox is the only character that wonders about the animals who may be stuck in the storm. Then, in the distance, two figures emerge. A set of bear brothers are stuck in the storm. They go from home to home looking for shelter. Each family turns them away. “Try next door,” they each say. Including Little Fox’s family. Unable to accept the outcome, Little Fox runs after the bears to give them a lantern to guide their search for shelter. As fate would have it, the snow from the storm weighs down on the foxes den, and the family barely makes it out before their den collapses. In the meantime, the Bears have built an igloo. The foxes knock and ask for shelter for the night. The bears welcome the Fox family.
Scripture Connection: The story invites comparison to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The one for whom little was done for, is the one who gives. The stranger turned away is the one who opens his door. In James 2:1-13, the writer warns his readers about showing favoritism. The Christian value system honors the poor, supports the suffering and loves on the unlovable. For James, there is no distance between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots. We are called to follow the command to love neighbor, especially in the midst of storms.
Theological Connection: Shelter is a beautiful story of hospitality and welcome. It is a reminder that those who are not like us, those who are not welcomed, or those who are on the margins, are welcomed by the Gospel. As such, the Church and Christians should embody this hospitality and welcome all, no matter their race, economic conditions, etc. As William Barclay writes, “The Church must be the one place where all distinctions are wiped out.”
Justice Connection: In a time when individuals advocate for walls to be built instead of bridges, this children’s book is a parable for us all. It welcomes discussion about immigration and refugees and how we as Christians should respond. And the connection between theology and justice is clear – as people of God, we are to welcome all.
Faith Talk (God Talk):
- How do you think the Bears felt when they were turned away at each house?
- How do you think Little Fox felt when his parents turned the Bears away?
- What did the Bears finally do?
- How did the Bears help the Foxes?
- How can you help those who do not have a home?
Parenting Connection: Originally published in France, this picture book points to the best of picture books. It is a story with a deep meaning of giving and kindness delivered in some of the best artwork by Qin Leng. Claire’s rhythmic and gentle prose begs to be read aloud. Children will likely connect with Little Fox and his empathy toward the Bears. Children tend to feel for others, no matter their status in society. As parents, we tend to be overly cautious. The tension between safety and following the Gospel is real. Consider ways to welcome the stranger that are within boundaries for your family, while also modeling for your children.
Consider This: Both urban and rural areas experience homelessness. Consider talking with your child about homelessness in your community. What are ways to help these individuals? What is being done to assure they have shelter?
You can buy a copy at Amazon or check out your local library.