Shelter (Céline Claire & Qin Leng)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Shelter by Céline Claire and Qin Leng, a lovely fable about kindness, generosity, and helping those in need.

A storm is coming, and all the animals of the forest are rushing to prepare. They fill their food stores, gather fuel for their fires, and secure themselves against the harsh weather, tucking into their homes just as the big storm hits. Outside, two young polar bear siblings approach, exposed to the elements. They knock on each door, asking for whatever food, shelter, or warmth can be spared, offering what little they have in return. Each family sends them away, protesting a shortage of resources (though they clearly have more than enough). The bears head toward an abandoned hill, hoping to make a hasty shelter, when Fox Cub calls out to them. He offers them a small lantern – not much, he apologizes, but it’s what he has. The polar bears thank him kindly, and after Fox Cub leaves, it begins to snow. The polar bears are heartened – this is something they know how to survive. Back at the Fox den, the heavy snowfall causes their roof to collapse. Turned out of their own home, they search for shelter, following a dim light to a pair of familiar faces who welcome them with open arms.

Simply beautiful. A moving story about why kindness and charity towards others makes entire communities stronger. This definitely reads as a metaphor for helping displaced refugees and/or the needy, and it’s an apt one, especially in the visual nods to the abundance of resources, and the fact that the bears appear to be relatively young orphans. It’s a tale about how our kindnesses, even small ones, are so often the thing that light our own way out of the dark. The art is gorgeous, with rich, detailed characters that bring real emotion and personality to each of the animals from head to toe. The length is great, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. A wonderful lesson for little ones, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!