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A Shelter in Our Car

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Since she left Jamaica for America after her father died, Zettie lives in a car with her mother while they both go to school and plan for a real home.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 16th 2004 by Children's Book Press (first published 2004)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  176 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Jasmine Winters
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This children's book deals with issues of poverty and homelessness in a real and eye-opening way for children. Zettie and her mother must live in their car after her father dies. This books chronicles their day-to-day trials and tribulations as they attempt to survive and go to school. This book does not sugar coat or trivialize those experiences. This book can provide students with information to combat misconceptions they have about people in poverty. It can also bring to their mind more cause ...more
Alex  Baugh
After her father died, Zettie and her mother moved from Jamaica to the United States seeking a better life. But things didn't work out exactly as they has hoped, and now they are living in the car, driving from place to place to try to sleep for the night. It's a struggle because Zettie's mom can't get a permanent job, so they can't get an apartment. When her mother does find a day's temporary job, they eat better then their usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To her credit, mom is going t ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
This book deals with the heavy subject of homelessness with Children(something that isn't really talked about in my opinion) but is an important book to read whether you are a child or an adult. ...more
Hailey Harmon
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Shelter in Our Car is a touching story of a young girl and her mother who just lost the father of the family. Zettie and her mother move to America from Jamaica but her mother is unable to find a job. The woman and child live in the car and the young girl is very embarrassed of their financial status. Zettie asks her mom to drop her off around the street so none of her classmates see the beat up, old car. But when Zettie gets lost, she finally understands she is sheltered by like and is thankf ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very good example of a situation that places a family into poverty and what that family has to do to get by with their daily lives. Moving from one country to another can sometimes be financially draining, thus placing the person who comes here in poverty and making them homeless. This story outlines the struggles that this family, and many other homeless families, have to go through to survive.

This book offers children a different perspective on homelessness, for it shows them wh
Emily Sammartino
Oct 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Zettie and her mom have had it rough since coming to America from Jamaica and losing her father. Struggling to find a stable job, home, and food, they must take shelter in their car. Zettie can't escape reality, only getting bullied at school for her mom's "junky car". Despite all of these adversities, Zettie's mother doesn't lose hope, never stops trying, and give unconditional love. At the beginning of the story, Zettie is very resentful of her mother and does not want anyone to know about her ...more
This book is a realistic fiction story. I love every moment of the story. The illustrations are great. But, I did find that the stereotype of the Jamaican people, big nose and accent were present. Even though the stereotypes were present, I love it! I also loved how the child feared the police and the began to reason that not all cops are bad. I also love how instead of the illustrator picking a race to be bullies, poor or police she drew them as shadows. Great idea. This will be a great read fo ...more
Sarah Roberts
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book follows a mother and daughter who have immigrated to America after the death of their father/husband. This book shows that there are many causes of homelessness and that sometimes people are homeless while also working, being college students, and saving up money to try and get a permanent place to live. The illustrations are bold and it is not until the family gets news that they will be moving out of their car and into a shelter that they finally have smiles. This book shows the stru ...more
Emily Newcomer
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough good things about this book. This book is authentic in every way, shape, and form. The author herself migrated from Jamaica and can speak to the hardships of starting a new life in a new country. It briefly touches on the subject of shelters, and how they can be scary and noisy. It touches on hunger, fear, and the shame that can come with being homeless. I think the most important thing that this book does is normalize this so hopefully children who have experienced this or ma ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Books on homelessness are few and far between. This one handles the subject well. A girl and her mother must live in their car while the mother looks for work and studies at a community college. The father has passed away, and they are immigrants from Jamaica (the author is also originally from Jamaica). In one scene, the daughter becomes angry that her mother cannot find better work so they can have consistent food and shelter. A bully teases the girl, laughing at the car. The police are both t ...more
Cassidy Crawford
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: t-l-307
The focus of this book is on a little girl who is homeless. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful which definitely catches the eye. I felt like the story was a bit superficial because I didn't really get a sense of how being homeless made her feel. It seemed to be more a of a tell than show. However, I think it can resonate well with students especially those who are in similar conditions or aware of it. I feel like there is a time for this topic to be presented in the classroom and the boo ...more
Jane Rutherford
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read Harder Challenge 2020 - Task 18 - Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community.

Also read I See You by Michael Genhart (no words, but the pictures were lovely and observing how the characters changed from beginning to end was fun and inspirational. Liked the text after the story that told what homelessness is and how we can help.

Also read The Old Man by Sarah V. Probably my least favorite of the three (mostly because the pictures, while beautiful, were hard t
Monica B.
A story of a mother and daugter who move to the United States after THe husband passes away. The mother attends college classes during the day, while the daughter is at school. At night they sleep in the car. When Momma is not in class she looks for work, some days she is lucky, some days not so much. At the end of the book she gets a steady job helping people like herself. They are able to get a hotel for the summer so they don't have to sleep in the car anymore, which is better than the church ...more
Mikaela Robbins
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family, informational
This story follows a mother-daughter pair from Jamaica as they live out of their car for the time being. The book discusses the topic of homelessness through the perspective of her daughter, as they move place to place each night. They both dream of buying one particular apartment and moving out of the car once and for all. I think that children of any age should read this book, it discusses a real life situation that many people face.
Amber Logue
This shares the story of Zettie and her mom, immigrants from Jamaica, and her mom's journey to getting a steady job. It talks about homelessness as well as the struggle of finding a secure job when you are an immigrant. The story ends with Zettie's mom finding a job, but more importantly Zettie realizes that no matter what she has her mom. This would be great as a read aloud for middle elementary because of its great illustrations, and you can talk about homelessness as a class. ...more
Ashley Dumont
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Published in 2004.
This book brought out many different emotions. It was informative to hear from Zetties perspective from moving across the country and face homelessness with her mother. It exposed a perspective of being bullied and struggling to find a place to sleep at night. I would use this in my classroom as a read-aloud and talk about resources that our school and community provide for situations similar to Zetties.
Faith Harvieux
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The children's book A Shelter in Our Car starts off very strong, so this story may be a little too intense for younger children. It is extremely vivid and the illustrations go along great with the story. A lot of the vocabulary and topics discussed are also aimed towards an older crowd. The story does a great job of explaining the struggles some homeless people are forced into. The idea of living in a car is not something that any child should experience. You can truly feel the anxiety that the ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Published 2004.
This is an eye opening realistic fiction book about homelessness and poverty. It follows an eight year old immigrant girl from Jamaica, living in a car with her unemployed mother. Through this book it shows struggles that they have to face. I think this would be useful in the classroom to teach about poverty and homelessness.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
While the ending was very positive, I would wonder if it often doesn't work out so neatly. Good perspective and definitely best book i have seen on homelessness. ...more
Shyanne Snow
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very sad story with a happy ending. Great children's books. Addresses the issue of children being homeless. ...more
Ms Threlkeld
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking and important book.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is definitely a serious subject. The author managed to show this family’s plight and give us hope in the end. Kids will definitely get a lot out of reading this book.
Denise Menger
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Homelessness, job insecurity, immigration, family, love, and safety
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Girl and her mother live in their car while mother tries to find work so they can afford an apartment. Striking, expressionistic art.
Bailey Held
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that describes a mother and daughters struggles while being homeless.
Ryan Peters
This family moved after a death and face difficulties with money. This causes them to live in a car and think about their future in a home.
elizabeth tobey
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully drawn and absolutely soul crushing. Read for Read Harder 2020: Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about homeless mother and daughter duo and the hardships they face, as well as the struggle that brought them to homelessness.
Great language, figurative language. FP level Q.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kid-favorites
although Faris did not like the illustrations of this book- he did like this story about a mother and child surviving together through homelessness.
Outstanding pick for discussing financial insecurity with children.
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