The Old Woman Who Named Things

by Cynthia Rylant

Other authorsKathryn Brown (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1996



Call number




Harcourt Children's Books (1996), Edition: First, 32 pages


An old woman who has outlived all her friends is reluctant to become too attached to the stray dog that visits her each day.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
An old woman has outlived her special friends. Alone and lonely, she does not want to invest emotions in anything that will once again be lost to her through death.

She names the objects in her house because they will be there after she is gone. With a house named Franklin, a bed named Roxanne and a
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chair with the name of Fred, she whittles away the day looking out of the window and visiting the post office hoping for mail other than bills.

When a puppy visits her gate, he looks thin and hungry and while she happily feeds him, she directs him to go home!

Each day the puppy arrives hungry, she feeds him and sends him on his way. Becoming attached to the little puppy, she believes that as long as she doesn't name him, her emotions can remain guarded.

When the puppy becomes a young dog and still visits, she enjoys him. One day he doesn't come and thus she cannot send him home.

Fearful that something happened to him, and knowing he doesn't have a collar or a name, she drives her car (named Betsy) throughout the neighborhood searching for the lonely brown dog.

Choosing love and risking that she will have pain if the dog dies before she does, she calls the dog catcher. When she arrives at the pound and is asked the name of her dog, she calls for "lucky."

Realizing that indeed she is very lucky in life to have loved and been loved by so many, she remembered the smiling faces of those who passed before her, looked in the face of lucky and felt hope.

This is a poignant tale of loss, fear and fortitude.

Rylant is one of my favorite Newbery award winning authors and she never disappoints in her beautiful writing style, packed with emotion, but never melodramatic!

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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
A lonely old woman, having outlived all of her friends, and being reluctant to allow new ones into her life, for fear that she might lose them as well, takes to naming her inanimate possessions in this sweet picture-book about taking a chance on love and companionship. When a shy brown puppy pokes
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his head into her yard, she feeds him and sends him on his way. After all, Franklin (her house) doesn't need any dog hair, Roxanne (her bed) isn't wide enough for a canine companion, Fred (her chair) doesn't permit puppies to sit upon him, and Betsy (her car) makes animals sick. Despite her discouragement, the puppy comes back every day, eventually growing into a dog. And then one day, he doesn't show up...

A heartwarming tale of loneliness and fear, and how they are conquered by love, The Old Woman Who Named Things has a most satisfactory conclusion: something that is never really in much doubt (at least in my mind, anyway), but that is still very enjoyable to see. The watercolor artwork by Kathryn Brown is immensely appealing, with a quirky sensibility (I love the old lady's hairdo!) that amuses, and some moments of real pathos (the sweet little puppy!). All in all, an engaging book, one I recommend to young animal lovers, to children who long for a pet, or to children who are afraid of opening up and making friends.
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LibraryThing member vabrazzolotto
This book is about an old woman who has outlived all of her friends. She names all of her possesions like her car, house, chair, etc. because these are things tha she can not outlive. One day a puppy comes to her fence, but she fed it and told it to go home. Everyday the puppy would come back for a
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year. The old woman did not want to name or keep the dog because it was something she could outlive and that it was too sad outliving everything she loved. One day the dog did not come to her fence. This makes her sad so she goes to the pound and looks for the dog. The dog is there, she takes him home and names him lucky.
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LibraryThing member jalann
This would be a good book for the lower grades. It is about an old woman who is lonely and scared to have friends because all of her friends have died and left her behind. Now, the lady only wants to name or get close to things that will out live her. One day when a puppy shows up she doesn't want
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to get attached because she might out live it. She ends up feeding it every day. One day the dog doesn't show up for a few days and the old lady is lonely again. she then decides that she is going to find the dog, she does, and names him lucky.
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LibraryThing member teddi8
This is a cute picture book about an old lady who named things that she would not be able to outlive. She was fortunate to live a long life, but all of her friends with names had died, so she stopped naming things she might lose. Then one day a dog starts to come to her house. She feeds him and
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sends him away. However, he continues to come back every day and every day she feeds him, but she refuses to give him a name. Then one day the dog doesn't come back, and the old lady starts to realize she might want to keep him around. It's fun to see how their relationship grows. It shows that fear shouldn't hold us back from loving somebody. The illustrations are beautiful. They portray the emotion and the scenery really well. I'd like to have this book available to students in my classroom.
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LibraryThing member sunnyd77
LibraryThing member lcbelew
This is about an old who who had outlived all of her friends, and she was lonely. So, she started to name things such as her house, her car, her chair etc. Then, one day a little puppy showed up. She didn't want to have to give it a name because she might outlive the puppy and she couldn't live
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with that. So, she would feed the dog, and tell the dog to go away. But the dog would be back the next day. Well, there was a time when the dog didn't come for several days. So, she went down to the pound and found her dog. Then, she took him home, and named him Lucky. This would be a great books for students to read for fun. It has a very unique story line.
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LibraryThing member GillianEvans
This book was cute but it was very short. I would use it in my classroom when discussing different names and objects. The book is about an old woman who has outlived all of her friends. She doesnt like being alone, so she decides to name all of her possesions that she know will not outlive her. Her
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car, her bed, etc. I enjoyed this book and i think elementary aged children would also.
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LibraryThing member Jenlovely
In the Old Woman Who Named Things the main character in the story is getting old. She is beginning to outlive everything in her opinion. She names only things she will not outlive. This brought her security and happiness. One day a puppy shows up at her house and she doesn't know what to do. She
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can't possibly let herself get close to it because chances are she will outlive it, she comes up with many reasons puppies are difficult to have around, but finds it is hard to not care for him. Over the course of time the puppy and the old woman become friends although she still will not name him. When he doesn't show up in her yard one day she realizes how much she has grown to love him. She debates about where he could be and if he's O.K. and then goes out to find him. When they are reunited it is clear that they truly need and love eachother. She realizes it is better to have the love and happiness of the dog even if it is not guaranteed to be forever and gives him a name.
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LibraryThing member bestabler
This book is about an old woman who names things that will outlive her (her car, refrigerator, house, etc.) because she has outlived all her friends and doesn't want to anymore. A dog comes to her house and she feeds it every day and tells it to go home, never naming it because she doesn't want to
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outlive it. One day, the dog stops coming so she goes to the dog catcher and gets him back, naming it Lucky and keeping it.
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LibraryThing member blindexpression1
This is a heart warming story of a an old lady who gives names to everything around her that isn't living because she can't bare to lose another person close to her...she has outlived them all. Until one day a forgotten puppy shows up at her gate, where a friendship develops over time. Unaware of
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the attachment that the now adult dog has become to her, it is not until he doesn't show up that the realization hits her that she misses him. The ending is worth waiting for, and you will definitely read this one over and over as the book is filled with fantastic little the faces that all of the things she names have if you look at them.
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LibraryThing member aswideman
This book shows children that it is best to not mistreat any animals. The old woman took in a stray dog because it did not have a home. Children should learn that it is wrong to mistreat animals.
LibraryThing member MelAKnee
When all of her friends die away, what else is a little old lady supposed to do besides name her things? There's a car named Betsy and a bed named Roxanne. The old woman knows that these things will not die before her and is content with having them as her friends. Then the day comes when a small
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brown puppy comes to her gate looking for food. The old woman feels pity for the pup and feeds him, but quickly turns him away. This continues until the day the brown puppy, now a dog, does not show up at the old woman's gate. The only woman realizes that she misses her actual friend and sets out to town to find him.
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LibraryThing member kidlit9
An old woman who has outlived all her friends is reluctant to become to attached to the stray dog that visits her each day.
LibraryThing member AMQS
An old woman whose friends have all died decides to name only things that she won’t outlive, such as her bed (Roxanne) and her chair (Fred). A hungry puppy who comes to the gate is fed, but then sent away…day after day, until one day when he doesn’t come, and the old woman goes in search of
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her dog. One of the very best picture books ever.

Curriculum: this book can help children examine fears and choices. The woman does not want a dog because she does not want to outlive anything else. She comes to realize that the joy the dog brings to her life is worth any potential pain down the road. Do you have any similar fears? Any experiences you're afraid to try that you think you might enjoy? What could help you try something new?

Rylant, C. & Brown, K. (1996). The old woman who named things. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc.
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LibraryThing member stephanie006
The old woman has outlived all of her friends and she names things in her life that she knows she cannot outlive. For example, her car, house ect. and she is happy with her life like this. One day, a puppy shows up at her house, but she cannot name it because she worries she will outlive it and she
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will become sad again. This book is good for spawning class discussions about loneliness. We have all been there, and you should not feel like you are the only who experiences these feelings.
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LibraryThing member law2110
How does an old woman who has outlived all her friends keep
from being lonely? By naming the things in her life she knows
she will never outlive — like her house, Franklin, and her bed,
Roxanne. When a shy brown puppy appears at her front
gate, the old woman won’ t name it, because it might not
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outlive her. **SRC Quiz**
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LibraryThing member mozella1970
The illustrator done a great job presenting the pictures for this text. The author has written a great story about an old woman who has outlived all her special friends. She begins to name all the items in her house because they cannot die. A little puppy shows up at her home but she refuses to
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name it for fear it might die. She feeds it daily but does not want to get emotionally attached for fear that it might leave her too.
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LibraryThing member Esyounker
I LOVED the illustrations in this book. The story is about an old woman who has outlived all of her friends. She was lonely and did not want to run the risk of making new friends and outliving them as well so she named all of her things that she knows she won't outlive. This things include her car,
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which she named Betsy, her bed, which she named Roxanne, the chair she sat in, Fred, and her house was name Franklin. She only named things that she knew she would not outlive. The old woman lives each day cleaning Roxanne, Fred, Franklin, and Betsy until one day a little brown puppy arrives at her gate. The old woman is having a hard time deciding whether or not to keep the puppy.
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LibraryThing member r13
This is an overall great book. I have used for reader's response and I have students right now working on it to create a plot map.
LibraryThing member TimberlyG
There once was a old woman that out lived all her friends so she began to name the things around her she wouldn't out live. Until one day a puppy befriended her he came to see her everyday but she never named him until one day he didn't come to visit her. She was worried so she called the dog
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catcher and found him there she took him home and named him.
Age 4 and up
DuPont Library
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 10.5 inches




0152578099 / 9780152578091
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