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A Mile From Ellington Station
     

A Mile From Ellington Station

by Tim Egan
 

Preston and his wife, Ruth, own Ellington Lodge. Preston is a checkers-playing fiend and is known around the neighborhood as the greatest checkers player in the world. When a small dog named Marley shows up at Ellington Lodge, Preston at first thinks he’s harmless, and Ruth is delighted because Marley helps out with chores that Preston has no time for, due

Overview


Preston and his wife, Ruth, own Ellington Lodge. Preston is a checkers-playing fiend and is known around the neighborhood as the greatest checkers player in the world. When a small dog named Marley shows up at Ellington Lodge, Preston at first thinks he’s harmless, and Ruth is delighted because Marley helps out with chores that Preston has no time for, due to his checkers games. Ever-helpful Marley soon seems to cast a spell over everyone at the lodge with his cooking talent, amazing storytelling, speed painting, and magic tricks.
When Marley beats Preston in checkers, ending his 992-game winning streak, it’s a bit too much for Preston to take, and he wants the canine wonder gone. Will Preston be able to turn the folks of Ellington Lodge against the little dog?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Egan specializes in quirky towns and dignified, faintly distrustful animal characters. His latest wry tale begins in Ellington Lodge, a general store with golden-brown woodwork, quaint posters advertising fresh produce and bountiful countertops stocked with jars. Ellington Lodge's proprietor, a bear named Preston, is enjoying a yearlong winning streak at checkers. He hunches over a checkerboard, observed by a leisurely pig, elk and cow all neatly dressed in the hats and jackets of country gentlemen. "As Preston beat[s] Eleanor Dorsey in game nine hundred and fifty-six," a stranger enters the shop and offers to do some chores that Preston has neglected. The talented newcomer, a squat brown dog wearing a gray top hat, burgundy-red duster and powder-blue cape, whips up breakfast and teaches everyone how to say "hello" in 10 different languages. He also trounces the bear at his game, thus disrupting Preston's routine and provoking the insular townsfolk. Egan's matter-of-fact narration unwinds at an unhurried pace, and his deliberate lines and mellow watercolor palette likewise suggest stasis. It's no wonder the eccentric visitor (who rides a unicycle and carries a walking stick with a certain hauteur) first poses a threat, then turns out to be "just a small dog with an attitude." This understated tale, with its aura of mystery and its subtle mockery of prejudices, recalls past Egan successes such as Metropolitan Cow and Chestnut Cove. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Egan's appealing, retro cover illustration leads readers off the beaten track to a small country lodge run by Preston, a carefree, childlike bear, and his somewhat maternal, hardworking wife, Ruth. Playing checkers is Preston's passion. A 943-game winning streak has consumed him for over a year and left Ruth with all the chores. Enter Marley, a globe-trotting dog with amazing abilities-including being a master checkers player. Marley plays Preston and wins, unknowingly breaking his streak, and the bear broods over his defeat. Impulsively, he decides to tell his wife and friends that he thinks Marley is a sorcerer. Reaction to the rumor appears to spiral out of control when a crowd of locals threatens to run the dog out of town, and, worse still, Ruth tells Preston that she saw Marley turn to ice the instant his sorcery was uncovered. The guilty bear nearly faints when he sees all the trouble he has caused, but Ruth ends his misery by revealing that it was all a joke-everyone was just having fun with him, and Marley is alive and well. Egan's ink-and-watercolor illustrations, with their warm palette and understated, cozily rounded cartoon figures, have a low-key humor that helps anchor the sometimes over-the-top plot twists. With a format well suited to storyhour, this offbeat tale lightheartedly reminds its readers to think of the consequences before they act.-Carey Ayres, Port Washington Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The ever-unique Egan (The Blunder of the Rogues, 1999, etc.) is back, and in peachy form, with this comical-believe it-tale of disappointment, mob rule, and rumor mongering. Preston the bear may be the checkers king of Ellington Lodge, but he is also negligent about his chores. So his wife accepts the offer of an itinerant dog, Marley, to paint the place in exchange for bed and board ("I learned to paint in France," notes the debonair Marley). Miraculously, the whole joint is painted by morning. Perhaps it was the unicycle Marley used that made all the difference, as seen in Egan's entertaining, tongue-in-cheek artwork, with its lovely bottle greens, barn reds, and inky purples. The next day, Marley whips up Eggs Florentine for breakfast ("I used to be a chef in Italy") before delivering a lecture in languages and a host of exotic stories. Then Marley steps on the banana peel: He beats Preston at checkers, snapping a 992-game streak. Vengeful, Preston starts dropping hints that Marley is a sorcerer. How else could he do all the things he does? The townsfolk start getting antsy: Doesn't legend say that sorcerers turn their enemies into ice? Soon the mob wants to run Marley out of town. Preston starts to feel the glimmerings of remorse, but it's too late. The crowd shows up at Marley's cabin and, lo, it is Marley who has been turned into ice. (" 'Wow,' said Jacob, 'I guess I heard that legend wrong!' ") It's all a ruse, however, to show the townsfolk the evil of their ways ("I learned ice sculpting in Finland," admits Marley). Egan's arch humor and way with allegory couldn't be more finely tuned, even by a sorcerer dog. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618003938
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/26/2001
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.75(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.12(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author


Tim Egan is the author and illustrator of several offbeat and humorous tales for children. He is consistently recognized for his individuality and delightful illustrations. Born in New Jersey, Tim moved to California to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He still lives in southern California with his wife, Ann, and their two sons. To learn more about Tim Egan, visit his Web site at www.timegan.com. For a complete list of books by Tim Egan, visit www.houghton mifflinbooks.com.

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