The Books

The Old Woman Who Named Things

by Cynthia Rylant
Illustrated by Kathryn Brown

One Potato Review

This formulaic surface hides a truer, tricky soul. The puppy here may be cute and lost and archetypically winning, but the old woman of the title suffers a commitment (perhaps unique in the picture book firmament) of naming and generally associating with only those things which she knows will outlive her – a house, a car, a wheelbarrow – this having already endured her lifetime allotment of loss. Oddly, however, she remains cheerful in her neurosis (hey, whatever gets you through the day) and there is hardly any suggestion that the admittedly predictable ending amounts to more than a one-time exception. Stubborn but pragmatic, and brimming with ornery intelligence. For older readers probably, though young ones may conceivably delight to an old armchair named Fred.