Friday, November 30, 2012

The Dump Man's Treasure

Picture book
My all time favorite children's book authors are a formidable
trinity of women, all with last names that begin with the letter P.
There's the late and greatly missed Ethel Pochocki whose keen powers
of observation gave dignity and beauty to what other people would
overlook. A book she wrote with a red flannel union suit as hero
brought tears to my eyes. Then there's Patricia Polacco, staunch
advocate for kids with disabilities and the keeping alive of old world
Last but not least there's my old friend, Lynn Plourde. Holy
Hannah, do I love that woman's writing! Ever since she put those Pigs
in the Mud in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud she's been serving up
stories that are truly something special.
Ethel and Lynn had some of their books illustrated by a
wonderful artist not too far from them alphabetically--
Mary Beth Owens. Her backgrounds are detailed and evocative. But
it's her sentient beings who really stand out. Her people's faces are
ever so expressive. She can get the fur perfect on a cat or dog.
Lynn and Mary Beth have teamed up on a gem called The Dump Man's
Treasures. Set back in the days before dumps were called landfills or
recycling centers, it's a celebration of the beauty and worth of
books, the power of community, and the fact that kids can be far
smarter than adults.
Mr. Pottle, the dump man, epitomizes the saying that one man's
trash is another man's treasure. He has a special fondness for books,
feeling that they should never be thrown out. He builds shelves out
of salvaged wood to create his own dump library.
The adults disapprove. There aren't enough rules. It might
distract people from the town library. Dump books might spread
disease. The kids answer these concerns with, "Who cares?" They check
out the books when their parents drop off the household trash.
Soon there are more books than the library can hold. Mr. Pottle
starts delivering them around town in a beat up grocery cart. The
adults think he's crazy. The children accompany him on bicycles.
One Saturday Mr. Pottle doesn't show up for work. The adults
whine about the inconvenience he's causing. But the children are
worried about their good friend. They know what to do.
This wonderful, heart warming story has the potential to enhance
children's appreciation of illustration. Little kids will enjoy
finding the dump man's white and orange cat in the two page spreads.
Older children will like the challenge of finding the covers of
classics (i.e., Cat in the Hat) in the arrays of books.
On a personal note, last night was opening night for Orono Community
Theater's production of Our Town. The magic was there that makes a
production so much more than the sum of its individual parts. I just
hope that the audience loved it as much of those of us on the stage
did. I hope we all will remember to treasure the "small" things that
make life precious.
A great big shout out goes out to our director, Sandy, our stage
manager, Donna, our costume wizard, Rebecca, and my wonderful,
amazing, talented cast mates. Love you, love you, LOVE YOU!!! It's a
joy and privilege to be part of the Our Town family.
Julia Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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