Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch
Kerby, Mona. 2008. OWNEY, THE MAIL-POUCH POOCH. Ill. by Lynne Barasch. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374356859 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
In this historical picture book, Mona Kerby shares the true story of a scrappy stray dog named Owney that wanders into the Albany Post Office one rainy night in 1888. The dog seems to like the smell of mail bags and postal uniforms, so the workers allow him to stay. Owney appears to enjoy his role as protector of the U.S. Mail, eventually accompanying the mail pouches on trains. He rides the rails visiting post offices across the country. Each time he returns to Albany, Owney’s harness is covered with more depot tags to document his travels. Before his retirement, his post office pals treat him to a trip around the world.
Kerby includes an author’s note explaining her research process and a bibliography of her sources for readers that might like to learn more about this amazing dog. A few photographs of Owney and his postmen friends, courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, provide a nice touch of historical authenticity. Lynne Barasch’s watercolor illustrations enhance this interesting story. Muted blue and gray tones compliment the U.S. postal theme well.
This picture book would make a wonderful read aloud choice to include in any lesson explaining the U.S. Post Office or mail delivery. Young readers can use the locations listed in the book to plot Owney’s travels on a map of the United States or even a globe.
Other books for children about transporting mail and people through the postal system:
Gibbons, Gail. THE POST OFFICE BOOK: MAIL AND HOW IT MOVES. ISBN 9780064460293
Levine, Ellen. HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX: A TRUE STORY FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. Ill. by Kadir Nelson. ISBN 9780439777339
Tunnell, Michael O. MAILING MAY. Ill. by Ted Rand. ISBN 9780688128784
By Kimberly C. Kinnaird