Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book #57: The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan


Image from OpenLibrary.org
Dodsworth owns thrift store and his motto is, “Try to do as little as possible.” His life is routine until one day at the junk yard he finds a pink refrigerator. Stuck to the front with a magnet is a note that says, “Make Pictures.” Inside the refrigerator are art supplies. Dodsworth takes the materials to his shop, but when someone tries to buy them, he just can’t sell them and instead paints a picture of the ocean. Each day Dodsworth returns to the refrigerator. Each time the notes changes and there a new treasure inside. “Read More.” “Learn to Cook.” “Play Music.” One morning the note on the refrigerator says, “Keep Exploring,” but there’s nothing inside! Disappointed, Dodsworth takes the magnet home, all the while thinking. He writes a note, “Went to find an ocean,” uses the magnet to put it on the shop door and rides off down the street.

Egan’s illustrations are detailed and have a sort of old world charm to them. Dodsworth, a rather reluctant protagonist, is a small, round animal (a dog maybe? A bear?) and is never seen without his hat and coat. Instead of a car, he rides a tricycle and he seems too small for his surroundings. All this succeeds in making him an endearing, rather than boring, character.

The book is great for kindergarten age kids and up, as the theme is about how Dodsworth interacts with the world, rather than how the world interacts with him. The text is concise and full of dialogue, making it a nice picture book for kids learning to read. Although we never find out if the refrigerator is magic or if there’s a benevolent junk yard guy who fills restocks the fridge, the book is really about Dodsworth’s journey as he discovers that the world is full of wonderful experiences, but he can’t just wait for them to come knocking at his door.
The closed fridge -"Have a super day!"

The super hero costume inside the fridge
After reading the book, ask the kids what else they would like to find in the refrigerator. Where do they think the treasures inside the refrigerator are coming from? To continue this line of thought, make refrigerators with flaps. Cut construction paper into the shape of a refrigerator with a door that opens (or use old blank note cards like I did in the picture). Have each child paste the fridge onto a piece of paper, write a note for the front of the fridge, and draw the surprise they would hide inside for Dodsworth. Have them write or dictate to you the reason for their choice. Put all the pages together in a binder or post them on the walls.

If you enjoy Dodsworth as much as I do, you can follow his adventures in several easy readers as he travels to New York, Paris, London, and Rome with a very mischievous duck. If you’re planning a trip to any of these cities these readers are great because they introduce major landmarks and other cultural aspects of the city. They are by no means comprehensive or fact-filled, but they are perfect for an airplane ride or as a fun way to introduce the idea of traveling to early readers.

-Amy

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