Title: The Old Woman Who Named Things
Author/Illustrator: Cynthia Rylant/Kathryn Brown
Publisher/Date: Voyager Books/1996
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+
Themes: loneliness, old age, dogs
Opening: "Once there was an old woman who loved to name things. She named the old car she drove "Betsy"."
Synopsis: From Publishers Weekly - "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." Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Why I Love This Book:
This bittersweet story tugs at the heart strings. Just imagining an old woman, alone in the world, afraid to love, brings tears to my eyes. But she is warmed by a stray dog who keeps showing up. Only when he stops coming does she realize her attachment. Pets have the power to bring joy, hope, and healing. I also love the way she names her inanimate possessions, which are personified further through the magical illustrations.
Writing prompt: Name a favorite piece of furniture or a vehicle. Give it a personality and write about its likes and dislikes.
Research therapy dogs: http://www.tdi-dog.org/
Language Arts Lesson Plan, grades 3-5: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/thoughtshots-bring-your-characters-1129.html
For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.
What a great way to show kids about the feelings of others and get them to think beyond themselves. And the writing connection it provides--making their own story about a thing...how cool.ReplyDelete
Oh how sweet and funny and poignant all in one!ReplyDelete
I've actually read this one, and sort of marveled at how much I liked it. Not totally surprising considering it is by Cynthia Rylant. But who knew a story about an aging old lady could make a good picture book?ReplyDelete
I love this book, especially the ending. Great to add to the list!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful book. I think the quirky illustrations probably are a nice balance with the heart-string-tugging topic.ReplyDelete
I hope I can find this one at the library. Thanks for adding this to the list.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Laura, for this quirky entry into PPBF. I love the whole idea of the book...and your resource/activity list is awesome!ReplyDelete