Sunday, December 05, 2010

Children’s Book Review: Ballad of the Rag Man, by Cynthia Gustavson

What would you think if you saw a man collecting “garbage” from people’s houses and taking it home where it gets piled in the yard with other cast-off items? Most likely, you’d assume that this man is a little crazy or strange. That’s what the little girl in Ballad of the Rag Man thinks, too, when she sees a person like this in her town. In fact, this man even takes her old ratty teddy bear from the trash! The little girl sneaks over to the man’s house to discover him working in a sparkling clean workshop on his property. He’s fixing up all the old items he’s collected, including her teddy bear! The next day, she finds her good-as-new teddy back at her house -- a gift from the “rag man.”

This lovely story teaches children that appearances can be deceiving, and that we shouldn’t judge people harshly who are different from us. My boys were enchanted by the rhyming poetry in this book, and by the unique illustrations by Kristina Tosic.

Author Cynthia Gustavson wrote this book as part of The Rag Man Project, which encourages people to embrace the things that make each of us unique. In addition to Ballad of the Rag Man, The Rag Man Project offers free “kits” that include activities for parents and teachers to do with children to help foster acceptance.

I encourage you to read Ballad of the Rag Man with your children or students, and initiate a discussion about prejudice, kindness, and differences. It’s a lesson that all children -- and adults -- need to hear.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate this review. No financial compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the Amazon links in this post.


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