Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet Year


This is a beautiful alphabet book that covers the ground between antlers and zero and is written to celebrate the wonders of a life connected to nature in the northwoods...and whereever you live.


It's been over twenty years since I walked into Junior Editions Bookstore in Columbia Mall, MD and found my place in the world. We'd been living overseas as an Army family and pretty much missed the entire decade of the eighties.  
In Junior Editions I found a place that connected with everything I valued and the best thing was the little three by five card in the window saying they needed some part time help. I applied. I took the test..yes I had to take a test ..there was a list of authors and I had to say what age group I would hand their books to. It was great...but I had never heard of Cynthia Voigt. Have now:)

One of the books that was a stalwart on our shelves at Junior Editions was Antler, Bear, Canoe by Betsy Bowen. It was one of those books I didn't know. It was one of those books I knew I should know. It was one of those books that when I saw someone choose to buy it, I knew I was connecting with a very smart parent or friend who really had it together. 

This past week my husband and I went up to explore the northern neck of Minnesota. We didn't know much about Minnesota when we set out. So, we got a couple of books from the library and found out that the headwaters of the Mississippi River are in Itasca Stata Park. We found out that in Ely, Minnesota there is an International Wolf Center. We found out that Grand Portage is a National Monument that celebrates the Ojibwe also known as the Chippewa Indians. 

We set forth. A pair of Voyageurs heading to Voyageurs National Park up near International Falls.....renowned for being cold.

We had gorgeous weather and discovered beautiful places and took pictures of scat on a trail that has since been identified to be that of a wolf. So, glad he or she decided to beat feet out of our way.

In the town of Grand Marais we stopped for doughnuts...the world's best is the claim and next door was a bookstore..The Drury Lane. That's where I asked if there were any local authors and I discovered that Betsy Bowen, author/illustrator of Antler, Bear, Canoe has a studio in the town and is about to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her wonderful book. Twenty five years. Wow! 

On October 8th if you happen to be in Grand Marais, Minnesota you might want to stop in and visit. 

Antler, Bear, Canoe is a book that celebrates the things that matter. It's about how you live your life in the northern parts of Minnesota. The word mall is not mentioned. There are no pictures of celebrities. In fact, it's a quiet sort of book written by someone who might make her own jam. You know... she sets out to do something wonderful every single day. 

It was an important book in my life. I imagine it has been an important book in the lives of many, many children. The amazing thing about it is that after twenty-five years, it's still important...and I would say it is even more important as we find our wilderness threatened and the things that make life worth living barely mentioned on television.

Thank you Betsy Bowen. You gave us a book that is a beacon in our times. You gave us an a, b, c book that gives us the basic building blocks for living a meaningful, happy, contented life. No neon lights required.

32 pages   Ages  4-8   978-0618226382

Editor's Note: This is a companion book to The Gathering: A Northwoods Counting Book

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,

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