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list price: $19.95
also available: eBook Audiobook
category: Children's Fiction
published: Oct 2020
publisher: Orca Book Publishers

The One with the Scraggly Beard

by Elizabeth Withey, illustrated by Lynn Scurfield

tagged: homelessness & poverty, emotions & feelings, city & town life

A child tries to understand the life of a man he has seen sleeping under a bridge.

The boy’s mother patiently answers his questions and explains how people’s life paths can be so different. The child observes the things he has in common with the man and wonders where his own path will lead.

The One With the Scraggly Beard is defined by a simple narrative in which a child’s curiosity and perceptiveness act as catalysts for understanding fear, suffering and resilience while exploring themes of homelessness, belonging and compassion. This unique book will speak to children and adults alike. A note from the author explains how the origin of this story is rooted in her own life.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Withey is a journalist, author and visual artist. She grew up in rural Saskatchewan, reading books borrowed from the Wapiti Regional Library. A former Writer in Residence at Edmonton Public Library and staff writer and columnist at the Edmonton Journal, Elizabeth is now a producer for CBC Radio and lives in Calgary. The One with the Scraggly Beard was inspired by Withey’s son’s experience meeting his uncle, who has been living on the street since 2015.

LYNN SCURFIELD is a mixed media illustrator who lives near Toronto, Ontario with her dog Taro. She received her Bachelor of Illustration from Sheridan College in 2015, and her work has been published by Google, The New York Times, The Walrus, The Atlantic and The Globe & Mail.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
3 to 5
p to k
Reading age:
3 to 5
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award
  • Commended, BC Books for BC Schools
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
  • Commended, Notable Social Studies Trade Book
Editorial Reviews

“A powerful book…Models what respect and human dignity looks like for all community members.”

— Toronto Star

“A wise and timely tale because young children see what is happening on our streets and wonder why. Withey’s spare text allows the little boy to fill in the spaces as he matures and develops understanding.”

— CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“A complex topic painted with care and told with empathy.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“[A] sensitive story of family and love…Every elementary library should have this thought provoking book on their shelves. This difficult topic of homelessness is explained well in this narrative.”

— Must Read Literature

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