Owney, the Mail-Pouch PoochSpring 2008 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Mona Kerby
Illustrator: Lynne Barasch
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Hardcover Price: $16.95
Review:Children will love this fascinating fictionalized account of Owney, a stray mongrel terrier, who, in 1888, was adopted by the postmen of Albany, New York, and who later went on to fame (if not fortune) riding mail trains around the United States and collecting postal tags from every stop along the way. Incarcerated in Montreal by the local dogcatchers, the postmen of Albany paid his fine and brought him home again. Near the end of his train-hopping career, he was ushered aboard the steamship Victoria sailing out of Tacoma, Washington, on an international run that took him (and his human companions) to Japan, China, Hong Kong, and up the Suez Canal to Algiers. "His last trip lasted 132 days. He wore two hundred new tags, trinkets, and ribbons. He had gained six pounds." Loosely sketched watercolors (reminiscent of Ardizzone) evoke the time period and provide Owney with all the jaunty personality he deserves. A period photograph of Owney aboard a U.S. Mail train, an author's note (a stuffed version of Owney as well as a bronze statue reside at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum), and a bibliography of newspaper articles from the 1890's round out this engaging account. Pair this with Hachiko (by Pamela Turner, Houghton Mifflin, 2004) for another fictionalized true story about dogs, trains, and the faithful execution of duty.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard ©2008 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.
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