Of the many children's books I read and review, I have never been disappointed with any of Cynthia Rylant's work. She is by far my favorite children's author. This book was no exception, and in fact I strongly feel that this is her best so far; and if you are at all familiar with this author's work, then you know how what a bold statement that is!
I do not care what age you are, find a copy of this work and read it. If you don't have a kid around, go borrow one somewhere if you feel embarrassed being seen reading a work meant for children and not adults. This work, in reality, is as much for adults as it is for children and to be truthful, if your heart is not touched by it, then you probably are missing a part or at least need a tune-up. It you don't get just a bit of a tear in your eye...a good sort of tear, then....well, I truly feel for you.
There is an old lady; a lonely old lady and a very quirky one indeed. She names things; her chair, car, couch...what ever she likes or loves, she gives it a name. But there is a catch here! She will not name anything that she might "outlive." This lady has apparently suffered great loss during her life and has no intention to become attached or love any living thing that could possibly die before she dose. She feel she simply cannot face the loss.
One day a wonderful little puppy comes to her door; a stray. She feeds it, is fond of it and cares for it. But she will not name it! By naming the little pup she would somehow become "attached" and she is fearful that she will have to say good bye at some point. One day the pup disappears and the little old lady realizes she must find it and indeed, name it.
The art work in this book is beyond reproach in its execution. Full pages bring a delight to the reader's eye. The illustrations are extremely child friendly and match the story, not only plot wise, but mood wise, perfectly. The outfits the old lady wore made me feel as though she and I were kindred spirits.
Ms. Rylant's prose is the best. She writes in a style that is absolutely captivating. It is the kind of writing that when you read it, you will suddenly stop and ask yourself "did I really read that?" and then you will go back and read and read passages over and over again.
Of course on the surface this is a children's book, but it is oh so much more. I love the fact that the main character in this work is a very old person. The book is filled with message after message; all of them quite important and all quite profound. I have discussed this work with several people and each and every one of them came up with a new twist in their interpretation. I have to admit that I have a very sappy streak in me and that I sort of tear up every time I read this thing.
Of course I also have to admit that I am getting pretty long in the tooth myself and must also admit that as far as quirkiness goes, I give the old lady a pretty good run for her money. Her strange outfits are not so strange to me and I too have a strong tendency to name things.
Trust me on this one folks...read it! You will not be sorry!
Don Blankenship The Ozarks
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About the reviewer
Don Blankenship (TheAncientReader)
Retirement does not suit me and I now substitute teach in our local schools system. I spent twenty years in the military, twenty years in health care as a consultant and have taught in various colleges … more
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The unlikely protagonist of this quirky and tenderhearted story is a little old lady with cat glasses and a beehive who might have stepped out of The Far Side. Lonely, she names inanimate objects-her car is Betsy, her bed is Roxanne. A stray dog wanders into her life but she refuses to name it; after losing many friends "she named only those things she knew she could never outlive." When the dog disappears, however, she realizes that finding him-and subsequently naming him-is worth the risk of outliving him. Brown's (Boris) hilarious, disproportionate depictions of the cowboy-booted woman and her belongings give this tale much of its bounce. Betsy the car has grinning grillwork and huge fins; Fred the chair has buttons for eyes and a rearing, pompadour-like back cushion. This sweet and silly story has solid kid appeal and the Larsonesque visuals will tickle more than a few grown-ups. Ages 4-8. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.