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Children's Fiction Homelessness & Poverty

The One with the Scraggly Beard

by (author) Elizabeth Withey

illustrated by Lynn Scurfield

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Homelessness & Poverty, City & Town Life, Emotions & Feelings
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 5
  • Grade: p to k
  • Reading age: 3 to 5


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 est à la fois journaliste, autrice et artiste en arts visuels. Elle a passé son enfance à la campagne en Saskatchewan à lire des livres empruntés à la bibliothèque régionale de Wapiti. Elle a été autrice en résidence à la bibliothèque municipale d’Edmonton, ainsi que journaliste et chroniqueuse à l’Edmonton Journal. Établie à Calgary, Elizabeth est productrice à CBC Radio. L’Homme à la barbe hirsute s’inspire des réactions de son fils après avoir aperçu son oncle qui vit dans la rue depuis 2015.


Elizabeth Withey's profile page

Lynn Scurfield is a freelance illustrator from a quiet suburb outside of Toronto. She received her bachelor of illustration from Sheridan College in 2015 and has been drawing for a variety of clients ever since, including Macmillian Publishers and NPR. Her work has also been commissioned by publications such as the New York Times, The Walrus

and Reader’s Digest Canada.


Lynn Scurfield's profile page


  • Commended, BC Books for BC Schools
  • Commended, Notable Social Studies Trade Book
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens

Editorial 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

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

Kirkus Reviews

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

Toronto Star

Other titles by Elizabeth Withey

Other titles by Lynn Scurfield