|Image from MaryCasanova.com|
One day a young girl and her faithful dog push their canoe into the lake and set off for on a trip for two. As they paddle around the lake they pass Beaver, “Can I come, too?” The girl objects that this is a “one-dog canoe,” but Beaver hops in with a slap of his tail. Despite her protestations, she somehow ends up in a “one-moose, one-bear, one-wolf, one-loon, one-beaver, one-dog canoe!” With such a heavy load all it takes is a small frog to tip the canoe into the water, “Plop! Swoosh-a-bang flop!” The girl and the animals laugh and splash and admit that it really was just a one-dog canoe. They bail out the canoe and soon the girl and her dog paddle off in their one-dog canoe.
The rhyming text flows along swiftly and uses wonderful imagery, “I dipped my paddle into ribbons of blue.” The illustrations are humorous and filled with funny details. Pay attention to the picnic basket and its contents throughout the book.
I really enjoy Casanova’s choice of animals, from the familiar dog and bear to the loon and the beaver, who rarely get a chance to shine in a children’s book. The exact location of the lake isn’t mentioned in the text, however, the girl and her dog paddle off as the Northern Lights become visible, so my guess is somewhere in Alaska or Canada.
This is a cumulative story, making it a great candidate for telling with a flannelboard. You can also have the kids retell the story using stuffed animals or get out that refrigerator box and have them act out the story.
After you read the story, try singing the camp song, Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe. My mom must have learned it in Girl Scouts and then passed it down to me. I remember singing it with her when I was little.