The Coat

By Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas. Flyaway Books, 2022. 32 pages. $18/hardcover; $16/eBook. Recommended for ages 3–7.

This book was originally published in French in 2020 and is now available in English from Flyaway Books. The inspiring story is about a younger sister named Elise who anxiously awaits the day she will inherit her older sister’s warm, red coat that she has admired for years. The day arrives when Elise is finally given the treasured coat. She is thrilled to be wearing this wonderfully perfect red coat. On her way to school the following day, Elise notices a mother and child huddled together and shivering in the bitter cold; they are not dressed for the weather. That chance encounter troubles her later, and she questions why everyone walked past them as if nothing were wrong. Elise decides to make a difference and gives her beloved coat to the young child, and her hat and scarf to the mother.

The engaging illustrations by Louis Thomas allow the reader to respond to various scenarios within the story. Children will have an opportunity to predict what might happen next in the story and what they might do in the same situation. It presents the topic of homelessness and themes of sharing, kindness, and empathy. Discussion of the book’s message can focus on the testimonies of equality and community. A downloadable discussion about homelessness that was developed with the National Coalition for the Homeless offers a rich resource for teachers to use. It is available at

Sharon Ottenbreit is a retired educator and a member of Detroit (Mich.) Meeting. She is the author of a book about homelessness called Only One Toy Allowed.

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