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The Picture Book Buzz

The Coal Thief - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

It's amazing how a few lumps of coal can get someone into so much trouble. A depression era story of a young Robin Hood.

The Coal Thief

Author: Alane Adams

Illustrator: Lauren Gallegos

Publisher: Spark Press (2015)

Ages: 4-8



History, poverty, community service, honesty, friendship

Synopsis (From Amazon):

Brrr! Georgie wakes up to a freezing morning in 1920s Pennsylvania and gets the bad news that there is no coal to heat the farmhouse―and he knows there is no money to buy more, either. Just after he finds this out, along comes his friend Harley, who drags him off on an adventure to find some mysterious “black gold.” Before Georgie can catch his breath, he’s in a pile of trouble―all the way up to his ears! Take a trip back in time and join Georgie in this heartwarming tale of mischief made and lessons learned in America’s storied past. Opening Lines:

One morning, Georgie went into the kitchen.

He poked around the potbellied stove, hoping to find a stray lump of coal.

"Don't bother, Georgie," Mama said, "there's been no coal for three days."

"But I'm cold." He shivered in the icy kitchen.

Why I like this book:

After rescuing Georgie from personal peril (when Georgie helps a friend break the law), his father sternly, but lovingly, uses the event to help him learn compassion and generosity toward others. This young rascal will capture your heart as he learns about taking responsibility for his decisions and true friends. This is an award-winning, touching, story about farm life in the 1920's. The illustrations are captivating and poignant, vividly showing the reality of their condition and compassion toward each other.

Related Activities:

- Build language skills by examining the descriptive phrases throughout the book (black gold, turned tail and run, and feel the shame curl his toes).

- try performing aloud with five different character voices or in a class as reader theater.

- Explore and discuss the struggles and changes for Pennsylvania farming families in the 1920's.

- Plan a community service project, such as a food bank collection, coat drive, etc.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture suggestions see Susannah Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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