Today at the library, our wonderful children's librarian asked me if I had read any of Tim Egan's picture books. I hadn't, so she loaded me up with five that happened to be on the shelves. It was love at first sight! The first one I read was The Pink Refrigerator. The story was so original and offbeat, that I immediately read the others. I'm hooked and I can't wait to see what else he has written.
The Pink Refrigerator stars Dodsworth, a little mouse who leads a rather routine life. Every day he visits the junkyard to find things to sell in his thrift shop. And while he manages to make a living from it, it doesn't keep him very busy, so he takes long naps, watches a lot of TV and goes to bed early.
One morning he spots a pink refrigerator at the junkyard with a note attached to it that says "Make Pictures." He opens the fridge, and discovers a sketchbook and paints and paintbrushes on the shelves. He decides that he should bring them back to his thrift store, but at the last moment doesn't sell them to a customer and he paints a picture of an ocean instead, and "it turned out pretty good."
The next day he goes back to the junkyard and sees the pink refrigerator with a new note on it that says "Read More." He opens up the door and finds the shelves filled with literary classics. He notes that they are worth a fortune and brings them back to his store to sell. But, once again, at the last moment he can't bring himself to part with them, and instead reads them and discovers a world of incredible stories.
Each day Dodsworth goes to the junkyard there's a new message on the pink refrigerator and he learns to try new things (like cooking, playing music and gardening). By the end of the book, Dodsworth's outlook on life has changed. No longer is he content to just sit by as an idle participant, instead he actively seeks out new things to try.
Kids (and adults) will like Dodsworth and his metamorphosis from couch potato to Renaissance Mouse. I have already decided that this will be a great gift for MY friends in coming years that are celebrating "round birthdays." It's a good reminder to push ourselves outside our comfort zones and continue to discover new things as we get older.
The other books by Tim Egan I grabbed today from our library include: Dodsworth in New York (which is a nice continuation of Dodsworth as he goes on an adventure); The Trial of Cardigan Jones; A Mile from Ellington Station; Burnt Toast on Davenport Street and Metropolitan Cow. All of them feature animals with distinctive personalities grappling with life. I highly recommend these books, and I think your kids will thank you for introducing them into their lives. In fact, I liked them so much, I may post about one of his other books at another time.
BookNosher Activity: It might be kind of fun to post a note for your child on your refrigerator that will expand their horizons. You could write something like Keep a Journal (and have a journal inside), or Make a Dinosaur (and have a some clay inside). Anything goes in an activity like this!