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Friday, November 15, 2019

Owen At The Park, written and illustrated by Scot Ritchie. Groundwood Books, 2019. $17.95 ages 3 and up

"At first they looked confused,
then they gathered their things
and hurried away.

Some people had
to be woken up ...

or interrupted in the middle
of a game of checkers ...

or tapped on the shoulder
while reading a book."

I am going to promise you right up front that by the time Owen ends his day, the kids who hear this book will be wanting his job. They may not think so as the story begins. Owen willingly helps his dad  to care for a beautiful city park. As with all jobs, it is not fun and games every minute of the days they spend together. A lot of the time he does boring things liking raking and sweeping. While Owen is doing his work, his dad is mowing the massive lawns.

It is the 'once a week' job that makes it all worthwhile. This week he is doing it all by himself for the first time, and he's pretty excited.

"For a shy boy like Owen,
the first part of the job was
"Just be friendly and firm,"
said his dad as he looked at his

Owen gets right at letting the people who are enjoying the park know that they need to find another place to be. As they listen to what he has to say, they pack up their belongings and get a move on. If they don't understand what he is saying, he pantomimes the message. Time is running out when he finally makes his way to his station. The park is much changed when he looks back.

Turning on the tap lets the sprinklers to do their work. A few poor stragglers are sorry they didn't put a little more effort into following Owen's instructions. Ha! An hour later, his work is done for another week. He and his father leave the park, satisfied with the results.

This is a story quickly told and inspired by a trip Mr. Ritchie made to the Tiegarten in Berlin. It is made better with the gorgeous mixed media artwork that fully fills every double page spread, with the warmth of the sun and the comfort of such a beautiful green space. Lovely to see so many families and friends enjoying is many riches.

Good work, Owen!

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