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The Old Woman Who Named Things


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About the Author

Cynthia Rylant is a Newbery medalist and the author of many acclaimed books for young people. She's well known for her popular characters for early readers, including Mr. Putter & Tabby and Henry & Mudge. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. www.cynthiarylant.com. Kathryn Brown lives in western Massachusetts.


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. (Apr.)

" Rylant and Brown together create with affection and lovingly humorous touches a glimpse of old age lived with relish." -Booklist

"Rylant and Brown together create with affection and lovingly humorous touches a glimpse of old age lived with relish."-Booklist

K-Gr 3‘Having outlived all of her friends, an inventive elderly woman intends to outsmart loneliness by naming the significant inanimate objects in her life. Confident that she will never outlive any of them, she resides complacently with a sturdy armchair named Fred and a firm bed named Roxanne inside a well-built house named Franklin. One day, a stray brown puppy appears. She hesitantly offers scraps of food but no commitment of friendship. After a few months time, the persevering puppy grows up to be a shy brown dog, but the woman does not acquiesce. However, one day when the dog does not appear, she is filled with concern. After a valiant attempt to locate it on her own, she enlists the help of the local dogcatcher. The old woman then makes a quick but firm decision to provide the dog with a name, acknowledging his place in her affections. Oddly enough, she remains nameless throughout the story. Themes of resilience and acceptance help make the narrative meaningful. Brown's watercolor illustrations show the independent woman in her cozy, somewhat cluttered surroundings, and the engaging pup who is sure to win readers' hearts as he does hers. Although the premise of the story may be a bit sophisticated for younger children, the happy resolution is most satisfying. Lucky the children who meet Lucky.‘Mary Margaret Pitts, Boston Public Library, Hyde Park, MA

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