View Full Version : Christmas shopping?

10-30-2002, 03:10 PM
Occasionally in my professional capacity--children's librarian, best job in the world--I come across books that are exceptional. This one came to me because a high school librarian had misordered a title and got a "picture book" instead.

The title is CANOE DAYS, by Gary Paulsen. The illustrations are by his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen. It's published by Dragonfly Books/Random House Children's Books, ISBN 0-329-25114-7.

The Paulsens have managed together to capture the essence of a quiet, solitary canoe ride on a northern lake on a summer day.

"Sometimes when it is still,
so still you can hear the swish
of a butterfly's wing--
sometimes when it is that still I take the canoe
out to the edge of the lake.
One stroke of the paddle...
...the sun on my back like a
golden friend on this perfect day.
A canoe day."

This is a book a boatchild would love, and one you can stand to read/listen to over and over. Along about Christmas, with the winter snow up well over the bottom step of the stoop, you might do with a reminder of a lazy summer day afloat.

While I'm at it, Gary wrote another book, VOYAGE OF THE FROG a few years back (1989). He is a prolific writer for intermediate/middle school kids. In VOYAGE Gary has the young protagonist setting out in a 22' sailboat (okay, so it's GRP) to scatter Uncle Owen's ashes. The FROG had been Uncle Owen's boat, but now it belongs to 14 year old David. David hates the task he's been charged with, but sets out anyway. Well, one thing leads to another, and David finds himself at sea off the California coast, and in a survival situation requiring all his knowledge and resources. This book is a good one for a 10-14 year old kid, especially one smitten with sailing. You might want to read it before wrapping it up.

I guess I'm on a roll here. Another summer float book that I came across last year is one written and illustrated by Jim LaMarche titled THE RAFT. It's published by HarperCollins, ISBN 0-688-13977-9.

Nicky is sent off to spend the summer with his grandmother, and he's none to happy about it.

" 'There's nobody to play with,' I complained. "She doesn't even have a TV.'"

So begins his experience with his unusual artist grandmother. The tale really gets going when Nicky is sitting on the dock, failing at fishing, and a raft drifts down the river. The raft becomes the vehicle connecting Nicky and his grandmother, and Nicky to himself and the world around him. The story was the most popular new book in my library last year with 6-9 year olds. I confess to being a bit partial to it myself. LaMarche's illustrations alone are worth the price of admission. I knew this was a keeper when I came to the part where Grandma is introduced to the raft, and produces a pole and a life jacket and says, "Let's go..."

Happy reading. And shopping. And sharing. ;)

10-30-2002, 03:27 PM

To change the subject slightly. I read a book when I about ten. It was tale of the sea, and piracy, and... A grand adventure book for boys. I believe it was either a winner or runner up of the Newberry in about 65. Any idea of the title? I'd like to read it again.


Dave Fleming
10-30-2002, 04:06 PM
Jack, the author wouldn't be Armstrong Sperry would it? ;)

Dave Fleming
10-30-2002, 04:17 PM
Well it is Holiday Catalog time that is certain.
They are filling up the mailbox every day here.
From the Robert Hale and Co. Nautical Books and Videos comes these.
Joe Upton, fisherman and writer has produced this one:
Runaways on the Inside Passage.
13 year old twins are abandoned bye their mother and with the help of an old Scandahoovian fisherman head up the Passage to find their father in Alaska.
( heck I might get that to read and then save till grandson is old enough for it ;) )
Keeper of the Light bye Patricia Pfitsch.
Yound girl helps tend a lighthouse on Lake Superior and has all sorts of adventures.
The Wreckers bye Iain Lawrence.
novel of 18th century life on the Cornwall coast
And last but bye no means least
The Picts and the Martyrs bye Arthur Ransome
part of the Swallows and Amazons series, the 11th of that collection.

10-30-2002, 04:35 PM

Thanks for the lead, but I don't think he wrote it. I looked at his web site and none rang a bell.

I really don't know, cause I only remember that it was very exciting and well written and had to do with the sea. It was complex and rich for a ten year old. I want to say the word "dirk" was in the title, but I'm not sure. Pretty sure it was a recent award winner or runner up circa 65.

I suppose if I really wanted I could suss it out on the web.



10-30-2002, 04:56 PM
Since my birthday comes up soon after Christmas, everybody could pitch in and buy me the plans, lumber, glue and varnish to build Gray Seal...

(...That's funny, they were all here just a minute ago...)

10-30-2002, 07:40 PM
Ish, the closest I can come from memory is the 1956 (I think) Newbery Award went to CARRY ON, MR. BOWDITCH, and I recall the author as Latham. If it was a "runner up" about '65, I'd have to dig a tiny bit and see what comes up. Oh, wait--flash--comes to mind an Honor Book in about '68, THE BLACK PEARL, by Scott O'Dell. Check your local library.

Another that came to mind from Gary Paulsen's long list is THE ISLAND. Story of a lad of about 15 who rows daily out to an island where he can be alone and away from his quarreling parents and the local bully. He decides to stay on the island indefinitely, but eventually comes to grips with himself and the rest of the world. A good coming-of-age tale for middleschoolers and mature intermediate kiddos. Maybe good for some of us still in the process...

10-30-2002, 08:04 PM

Sorry I mispoke your name. Norske just popped out.

How does one become a children's librarian? Sounds pretty good to me, aside from the colds in the winter.

And thanks for the thoughts about the book. It wasn't "Black Pearl", and I might be wrong about its status re awards.

It was very powerful writing, that I'm sure was in the previous ten years circa 65. Not much to go on eh?



10-30-2002, 08:13 PM
Having looked on the web, I wonder if "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch" isn't it! I'll have to take it out and read it, in any case. It looks quite good.

Thanks again,


Dave Williams
11-01-2002, 12:51 PM

Thanks for the post. My wife teaches 1st and 2nd grade. Sometimes I volunteer in the classroom and it is very rewarding.

Of course me being a sailor I always want to introduce the kids to boats.

Any other good reads for kids that age?

Here's to kindness,

Alan D. Hyde
11-01-2002, 12:57 PM
Carry on Mr. Bowditch!, by Jean Lee Latham is a great book. All of our children have read it and liked it.

The grown-ups did too.


[ 11-01-2002, 01:04 PM: Message edited by: Alan D. Hyde ]

11-04-2002, 07:20 PM
CARRY ON, MR. BOWDITCH is really worth a read. We're talking a biography here. He's the fella as wrote THE AMERICAN PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR. Did it before he was 30.

He grew up in Salem, apprenticed to a ship chandler at 12, and spent his time filling notebooks with all he could learn about the sea. He taught himself Latin so he could read Newton's PRINCIPIA in order to know more about astronomy.

After his apprenticeship was over, he went to sea. On his third voyage he navigated his ship into Manila Harbor during a monsoon, apparently to the amazement of all the masters there. On his last voyage he brought his ship safely into Salem Harbor in a dense fog even though he had been unable to verify his position for three days.

Does the Naval Academy still use Bowditch as a navigational text? Some guys I know, retired now, used it as a text there 30-plus years ago.

CARRY ON... is still available, most readily in paperback, but a couple of my jobbers show it in hardback. Not bad for a kiddie biography that won its award nearly 50 years ago!

And Dave--the list is too long for posting here. I don't have time for a website devoted to it. Maybe I'll just post some suggestions from time to time.

Ken Hall
11-08-2002, 02:44 PM
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is on display in the stacks of the West Park branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

You know, I thought I heard it calling my name the last couple of times I was in there.... ;)