Skip to main content

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox by Matt Luckhurst


I really like a good Paul Bunyan story and have two favorites (scroll to the bottom for titles.) Now, after reading Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure by Matt Luckhurst, I have THREE favorites. There are some things you just have to include in a Paul Bunyan story and there are plenty of things you can shape and craft into your own story and Luckhurst does this remarkably well and with humor. On top of that, with great subtlety, he even sneaks in a little message. And, happily, Luckhurt's brilliant, bright, comical illustrations are perfectly paired with his subject matter. 

When we first meet Paul and Babe, they are eating Mom out of house and home and keeping her from her farm work with their constant demands for pancakes. At school, Paul proves not to be such a good student. Besides Babe eating his homework, he says that math "is just not that tasty."


Eventually, Mom has to sit Paul and Babe down for a talk, telling them, "You have to start eating the food we GROW. You are going to get sick if all you eat is pancakes."  Paul and Babe try to make the best of it, but broccoli is more than they can bear and helping in the fields, well, they are far from dainty.


The friends head off for their adventures across America and are thrilled to encounter a man with a big problem down on Syrup River! A flour truck as tipped over into the river and the current is whipping up a "sizable amount of batter which had caused a log jam." The hot summer sun starts that batter sizzling and soon Paul and Babe are bursting their buttons. They go on to work as loggers, creating the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. Luckhurst brings his own imagination to these aspects of the story to great success. As Mom predicted, Paul and Babe do fall ill one day.  A doctor explains to Paul and Babe (echoing Mom) that "they needed to balance their diet and eat different foods or they would both become even more ill." They return home to Mom (who says, "See? Your mom is always right!) and, eventually they are growing Bunyan-sized fruit and vegetables for everyone.

However, what I like best and what surprised me most about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure is the author's note. Matt Luckhurst grew up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. His grandfather was an immigrant from England who worked as a logger for many years and eventually owned his own sawmill, where Matt's father worked as well. Thus, his fascination with Paul Bunyan began. While researching this book, Luckhurst discovered that some sources say Paul Bunyan was from Canada, not America! Poring over as many stories of Paul and Babe as he could find, Luckhurst used a mix of collected tales and historical documents to "compile a story that, while unique in structure and theme, stayed true to the oral tales of Bunyan and Babe." In this, he definitely succeeded!



Under the jacket flap - I love it when a publisher adds extras like this! Well done Amulet Books!

Source: Review Copy














Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …