Thursday, April 10, 2014

One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova and Pictures by Ard Hoyt

Utterly Otterly Day by Mary Casanova

Our four year old grandson usually spends his Thursdays with us.  In the morning he attends nursery school for a few hours and then afternoons we play.  A master of the triple "T's" (trains, tractors, and trucks), E. told me this winter that he didn't like books.  To a retired English teacher/librarian, a person who has never been far from a book, I took this as a challenge.  As I told his 12 year old sister, also an avid reader, "We need to fix that!"  So I started bringing a different stack of picture books home from the library each week.  I never push them on him.  Instead I let him discover them on the bench in the great room.  When he wants to read, I'll always read, but sometimes I'll say that we just have time for 1 or 2 stories, and then he keeps bringing them until we've read all 5 or 6.  The 6 and 8 year old granddaughters also find the books, and I always try to have something humorous that fits their tastes.  At first Ethan was only attracted to the truck books, but we've expanded to other stories.  A real mechanical, precise guy, I think he sometimes doesn't "get" the imaginative, fiction tales, but I keep working on it, because I sincerely believe the power of understanding a story or telling a story impacts our ability to empathize with and understand the lives of others.


That brings me to Mary Casanova's stories Utterly Otterly Day and One Dog Canoe, both illustrated by Ard Hoyt.  I brought the otter story home and enjoyed it with E.  In it, a little otter thinks he can swim off by himself, and indeed, he does quite well swimming near some dangerous animals, but in the end he does need his family to get safely back home.  While looking over this book, I realized I'd always loved another book by the same duo --One Dog Canoe.  So the following week, when my 6 year old granddaughter asked me to be a guest reader for all three first grades, I decided to select the elementary library's copy of One Dog Canoe for my presentation.
In the the book, a young girl goes out for a leisurely canoe ride with her dog.  Despite her pleas that the craft is only a one-dog canoe, one by one other animals beg a ride and jump into the canoe.
Like many other children's book where the smallest creature makes the biggest difference, adding just one more (I won't tell you what animal, but it isn't the moose!!) becomes too much and everyone is dumped into the water!  The illustrations are humorous, and I love this book!!
I think the kids did, too, because this week I got the following huge thank you card from my granddaughter's class.  Her teacher is a wonderful first grade teacher and is always doing the extra to make every event special.  Did you need an excuse to read some fanciful or humorous stories?  Volunteer at your library or school to be a special reader.  I am sure there is some type of program.  If you have youngsters stopping by your place regularly, visit the library and get a stack of children's picture books.  Ask the librarian for the ones with the best stories (usually not the Disney or television-connected books).  Help some kids discover the best in children's lit.


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