The Old Woman Who Named Things

If relationships with dogs often lead you to get a bit weepy grab some kleenex and enjoy this heart tugging gem by Cynthia Rylant. My copy smells like school library, an impossible combination of fresh and musty.

The Old Woman Who Named Things is the story of an elderly woman who is alone because she has outlived all of her friends. To avoid the pain of more loss the old woman decides to only care about things that she can’t outlive. To avoid being lonely she gives  her favorite inanimate objects charming names. For example her car is “Betsy” and her house is “Franklin.”

The old woman is happy until the day a small brown puppy appears at her gate wagging it’s tail and ‘looking a little hungry.”The old woman feeds the dog every day but always tell shim to go home after she feeds him. She does not want to risk losing anymore friends. 

The dog always returns each day …until the day he doesn’t. After several days the old woman realizes how much she has come to care about the dog.  The old woman goes in search of her shaggy companion. In the end the old woman has to decide if she will name her friend and claim the love she feels for him. 

The book  illustrates the lesson that trying to skip and avoid friendships can cause more pain than a friendship coming to an end. Cynthia Rylant has done a masterful job of sharing this profound truth in a way that younger audiences can appreciate. Kathryn Brown’s colorful illustrations serve to give the book a joyful and hopeful tone.


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