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There are several books about Owney but this one is my favorite. I'll add a picture of the front cover soon but in the mean time just make sure you check the author and illustrator's names.
Author: Dick Wales
Illustrator: Diane Kenna
This book is dedicated to stray dogs and warm places everywhere.
This is Diane Kenna's first illustrated book. I've had a hard time finding info on the artwork. The back flap says that Diane and Dick Wales have created award winning animated films for kids from books and these illustrations look to me like they could have been computer generated but yet somehow don't at the same time. They are quite unique. Perhaps they were drawn and then digitally colored.
Art Project Suggestions
Design a baggage tag like Owney would have worn on his vest. It can be an award for him, have your town's name on it, or anything you'd like it to say! You can use paper, cardboard or a mason jar top with permanent markers.
Draw a picture of Owney riding with the mail in a carriage or on a train.
1888 was the year Owney began riding the train. Put a card into your time line for Owney!
Active Game or Activity
Below is a list of some of the cities Owney visited from 1888 to 1896. I have typed them up so that they can be printed and cut out to play a game. Once they are cut out put them all in a bowl and take turns pulling one and finding the city on a map. You can use the map in the book but you may need another map handy to help find the cities.
Hide the Mailbag: Take a pillow case and fill it with paper, junk mail if you've saved some up for this. Take turns hiding the mailbag. You can start by saying the youngest, oldest, smallest etc goes first or the parent hides it first. The person who finds it gets to hide it next. OR! Each child can take a turn playing Owney and hiding with the mailbag, protecting it like Owney did, while everyone else searches for them. Don't forget to always take a turn yourself, otherwise you aren't in the game! My youngest always loved playing these types of hiding games and he loved if I would tell him when he was getting hotter or colder.
Toss a Penny Game: You can use the railway map in the book for an up close version of the game. Set the book on the table and hold a penny over the book and drop it. What state did it land on? Is there a red dot indicating Owney went there? If you have a larger US map, set the map up on the floor and mark a line to stand behind, a broom or a book works great. Take turns tossing the penny and see if you can name the state without looking too closely at the map. Then you can refer to the railway map to see if Owney went to that state.
If you are using a US Map place mat with markers you can mark Albany, New York for Owney. You can also print a blank map of the US and mark the states/towns Owney visited, which are listed below. The game for this book involves using the Official Railroad Map in the book or a larger US map.
The book says that Owney traveled the rails between 1888 and 1896. How many years was he a traveling dog? (9)
Owney's first ride on a train was from Albany to New York, which is 142 miles. How many miles total did he travel, round trip. (284)
Owney traveled around the world from august 19, 1895 to December 29, 1895. How many months was he gone? How many days?
Search and Find
A sign that says MARY POWELL
A world map
A medal that says Good for One Quart Milk
A green lamp
2 red flags
A green blanket
How many post office workers in the book are not wearing a hat?
How many don't have a mustache?
Discuss the time period and the wearing of hats and mustaches, which were very common.
What town did Owney live in?
What was the man's name who found Owney?
What was Owney given to wear his baggage tags and awards on?
Where was Owney found after being missing?
What was in Owney's suitcase when he took his trip around the world?
What date did Owney's trip around the world begin and end?
How many miles did Owney travel?
What country gave Owney a passport?
How much weight did Owney gain on his trip around the world?
Has your family ever taken in a stray animal? Take some time to discuss that experience.
The subject of luck can be discussed. What are your families feelings on this issue. Was Owney lucky or was he blessed?
Why do you think Owney was called a Lucky dog?
Rail travel in those days was high tech. Discuss the time difference in traveling in a carriage and on a train.
Look into the invention of the train. Here's a possible link to use:
How did mail travel before trains carried it?
Can you find pictures of Owney online?
The link below for the US Postal Museum has lots of ideas and links for further study. I will usually include more or my own but this resource is vast so I think this might do it!
The medal or baggage tag made for Owney can be put into the treasure box as a keepsake.
There's lots of info on Owney at the postal museum site including an ebook and a song about Owney sung by Trace Adkins. There's even an Owney Curriculum on there so this is a great place for a reminder that I hope you will keep things in perspective. The fun/learning ratio should always be nourished and protected. If your child wants none of this stuff and wants to move on to the next book, that's fine! The main goal here is to connect learning with enjoyment to set the pace for life.
Relative value calculator used to figure out how much $2.50 would be today... $66.00 You can take a moment to discuss inflation and the value of the dollar and use the website to calculate this. http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/relativevalue.php
The publishers website has some good info:http://www.greatplainspress.com/
For kids who a quizz: http://www.greatplainspress.com/aluckydogquiz/aluckydogquiz1.html
There are other books about Owney available. Owney the Mail-Pouch Pooch and A Small Dog's Big Life: Around the World with Owney, as well as The Further Adventures of a Lucky Dog by the same author as this book. I really like the somewhat gritty, sepia toned artwork of this book the best, as well as the awesome Official Railroad Map in the front of the book.
There's a few more pictures below from the postal museum website.
Some of the cities Owney visited:
Van Horne, Iowa
Gallup, New Mexico
San Francisco, California
Brooklyn, New York
Watertown, South Dakota
Claremont, New Hampshire
El Paso, Texas
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Charleston, West Virginia
Kansas City, Kansas
La Porte, Indiana
St. Louis, Missouri
Running Water, South Dakota
and in Canada: