Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Children's Literature - Susan Fournier
Readers of all ages will identify with the old woman in this story. She is alone, saddened by the knowledge that she has outlived all of her friends. Trying to avoid loneliness, she begins to name some of her possessions. She calls her old bed "Roxanne." Her old chair is named "Fred." Her reliable car is named "Betsy." All of these things have something in common. They are things that she knows she will not outlive. This ordered existence suits the old woman until one day a stray puppy befriends her. Afraid to become attached to the puppy, the woman feeds it and sends it away. When the puppy's daily visits suddenly cease, the woman becomes worried and knows she must do something. She learns that sometimes you need to take a risk where love and friendship are concerned. Her search for the puppy leads the old woman to remember the important role that friendship has played in her life.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Having 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
Once there was a woman who was so old that she had outlived all her friends. She doesn't like being all alone without anyone to call by name, so she names things, but only the ones she can't outlive: Her bed is Roxanne, her house is Franklin, her chair is Fred, and her car is Betsy. One day a shy brown puppy appears at the gate; she feeds him and tells him to go home. He comes every day, and she always feeds him, but she never, ever names him. The day the dog doesn't come to her gate is a sad one; when more days go by with no sign of him, the old woman knows what she must do.
Rylant (The Whales, p. 142, etc.) makes her humorous text spare and still, leaving plenty of room for the comedy in Brown's quirky watercolors. The old woman's hair is wound into an impossibly tall chignon; her cowboy boots are just as impossibly pointy. Betsy is a smiling 60s Chevy with fins, and the shy brown dog would worm its way into anyone's heart. Above all, the seaside cottage, riotous garden, and Rylant's words evoke a life that has beenand continues to belived well.