A Small Dog's Big Life: Around the World with Owney

A Small Dog's Big Life: Around the World with Owney

by Irene Kelly

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Letters tell the story of Owney, a dog who became the mascot of the Albany, New York post office in 1888. Owney was a stray that wandered into the post office and wound up accompanying mailbags on trains and then sailing around the world as a postal system mascot. He was known as the "Greatest Dog Traveler in the World." Newspapers vividly followed Owney's adventures. This scrappy canine's irresistible spirit won hearts wherever he went. Piecing together the facts of Owney's exciting life, Irene Kelly has written letters, telegrams, and newspaper accounts that tell a colorful story about a captivating nineteenth-century celebrity. There is a very good "Author's Note" in the back that tells the facts and what the author added. It is an interesting story, especially for dog lovers. Even though the intent was to make the letters close to the originals in type and maybe color, interesting text used in a good way may be more effective in attracting readers. A clever adult can turn this into a wonderful sharing experience. The book may need some promotion—whether it is a teacher or another person—unless a child who is a dog enthusiast finds it. 2005, Holiday House, Ages 5 to 8.
—Naomi Butler
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-In 1889, a winsome stray wandered into a post office in Albany, NY, where he was quickly adopted by the staff. His intrepid spirit soon led him to jump aboard the mail cars of various trains and travel to post offices all over the country, where clerks gave him tags to commemorate his visits. His adventures captured the public's imagination and, in 1895, he made a trip around the world as the official mascot of the U.S. Postal Service. Kelly tells Owney's story through fictional letters written by people who may have encountered the dog along his journey. In most cases, the voices are lively and distinctive, although they suffer at times from the necessity of stilted explanations, and some of the typefaces are difficult to read. The two maps included are fairly useful, but the one depicting Owney's U.S. travels lacks a key. The watercolor illustrations are serviceable, but facial expressions (both canine and human) are disappointingly bland and uniform. An author's note ties the story together, separates fact from fiction, and reveals the slightly disturbing details of Owney's demise. Overall, this is an effective treatment of a tale that's strange but true. Young dog lovers will be fascinated.-Rachael Vilmar, Atlanta Fulton Public Library, GA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Owney, a scruffy little stray mutt, wanders into the Albany post office in 1889, wins the hearts of the postal workers and becomes their mascot, riding the mail wagon to and from the train station. As predicted, the clever and curious Owney jumps aboard the train one day and travels alongside the mailbags to cities within the U.S. and beyond, reaching post office destinations in the Far and Middle East. Basing her story on the real canine's peripatetic life, Kelly has gleaned information from the dog tags created and collected by the various mail clerks around the country to invent a series of letters, postcards and newspaper articles. Using a liberal variety of fonts and writing styles alongside her bright, mixed-media drawings, she develops a kaleidoscopic story of Owney's adventures, imagining the heroic mutt sightseeing and visiting landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Pyramids in Egypt. The unorthodox format is well suited to spark interest in other imaginative journeys and to reading and writing about other parts of the world both in and out of the classroom. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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