The Lunch Thief

Click the graphic for the author's website
Yesterday's post about those precious preschool pals who helped tackle the issue of hunger inspired today's Picture Perfect Book Friday pick:

Title: The Lunch Thief
Author: Anne C. Bromley
Illustrator:  Robert Casilla
Publisher: Tilbury House
Date of Publication:  July 1, 2010
Suitable For: Ages 7-12

Themes/Topics: hunger, homelessness/temporary displacement, trustworthiness, empathy, friendship

Opening Sentences: I’m so hungry I could eat the crumbs the seagulls left behind.  They fly in from the coast every day to clean up the schoolyard after lunch.

Brief Synopsis:  Why is Rafael is so hungry? The new kid, Kevin, is stealing his lunch, that’s why. Rafael's not really sure what to do. When he sees that other kids’ lunches are disappearing, too, and then realizes that Kevin is from a nearby town that was ravaged by wildfires, Rafael has a new appreciation for Kevin's plight.  So what does he do?  He finds a way to connect with the hungry boy, subtly helps stop the stealing, and mixes in the fixins for friendship in the process.
Reviews and resources:  Tilbury Publishing’s Teachers Take Note, Books That Heal Kids, and Writing On The Sidewalk.  

Why I Like This Book:  This gourmet gem serves up the perfect recipe for a lesson on trustworthiness and empathy. Start with the question:  Is stealing always wrong? Then read the book and ask things like this:  Does Kevin want to be a lunch thief? What might you do if you were Kevin? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What does Kevin have to do to make things right? Why did Kevin offer Rafael a quarter for his lunch in the end? Will Rafael take the quarter? Why or why not? What consequences, if any, would you give Kevin? 

Use this story as a chance to learn more about hunger and/or homelessness in your area. Help your students brainstorm ways to help combat the issue, then find a homeless shelter nearby and take a field trip to serve a meal. Encourage students to write down the ways they could earn money so that they can make a donation. Integrate math skills by calculating how much money they’d need per meal to help one person for a week, a month, a year. Or hold a food drive. Weigh, sort and/or chart the items for curricular integration, then invite a speaker from the local pantry to come and talk to the students about the facility, the charitable work they do, and the service they provide.

Does your school have a Buddy Backpack program?  If not, consider starting one. We partner with the Houston Food Bank and Friendswood United Methodist Church to provide a weekly sack of non-perishable food and snack items to students who might otherwise go hungry over the weekend. 

For today's Picture Perfect picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill's blog {here}.  For an extensive list of Picture Perfect Books, click the graphic below.  


  1. This looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

    ✰ Kimberley ✰
    First in Maine

  2. Barbara, this looks terrific! I am always happy to add PBs for slightly older readers, and I love the messages of this book. Your resources are great! Thanks so much for sharing this one!

  3. Books that grow our perspective are special. When they challenge us to look beyond ourseleves, that book has given the world a present. This sounds like such a book.

  4. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to a special blogging buddy! Have a great birthday weekend!

  5. Happy Birthday Barbara! I too love picture books for older kids and this addresses a real and serious issue of bullying. I love your activities and reflections.

  6. Wow, this book touches on an important issue that we don't talk about enough. Thanks for sharing a great resource.

  7. Happy Birthday Barbara!!! You made it, you know!! Congrats on your writing!! :)

  8. What an excellent-sounding book. Thank you for sharing it. Your activities are top-notch, as well.

  9. My children have been eager to watch Disney's "Robin Hood," and this book reminds me of the themes in that movie. We teach that stealing is wrong, but is that always a case. Thanks for offering us a way to start talking about complex issues.

  10. Barbara, thank you for sharing my book with these wonderful readers. I also love your activities and hope lots of other schools get on board with the Buddy Backpack program. All the best to you!

  11. This sounds like a sad topic but one that kids should learn about and something parents should talk to thier kids about.

  12. WOW, Barbara! Love the book, love the activities, love the idea of spreading the word about the Buddy Backpack program!
    We often react when people do things we perceive as "wrong"...but the main character here responds with compassion and finds a way to REALLY make things better for everyone. What a perfect book to incorporate into a school unit...or read at home.
    Great review and wonderful activities!

  13. I love this book! It's always very popular with kids when we do book studies on differences. I've been moved by how quietly affirming it is for some of our hungry kids to have the struggles of poverty actually recognized in a book. They really listen when other kids talk about how they empathize with Kevin.
    Thanks for sharing!


  14. A book with a special message. Often things are not what they seem, and this has a very good message.... thanks Barbara.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!