The book Owney the Mail Pouch Pooch is a tale of luck and adventure, as well as a celebration of the history of the US Post Office. But at its heart, it is a dog story, for dog lovers, by dog lovers.
The dedications at the beginning of the book are to the beloved canines of the author and illustrator, which set the tone for the book, that covers an interesting historical time through the lens of a dog, Owney, who found himself working for the US Post office from 1888 to 1897.
The story, written by Mona Kerby, begins with the dog finding shelter in the Albany, NY post office, winning the hearts of the men who worked there, who in turn gained the loyalty of the dog for the US Postal employees and the US mail.
The story has the dog traveling by train to the various post offices of the country in his self-appointed task of looking after the US mail. He quickly gains notoriety around the country as the mail dog and receives medallions from the post offices he visits, and every time he returns to the Albany office they can, by means of the medallions, trace his journeys.
He travels across the country and even around the world as the story unfolds.
The illustrations by Lynne Barasch depict late 19th century USA with a carefree and cheerful style that in keeping with the historical but lighthearted feel of the story.
The last illustration before the appendix is not an illustration at all but a photograph of the dog Owney on board one of the trains with the post office employees in the foreground. This brought the history to life as it became apparent that this was a true story about a real dog.
The last two pages talk about the process of researching for the story with a little more in depth historical detail of this famous dog. I found it to be an excellent read and the children to whom I read it, my girls of 8, 6 and 4 agreed. We spent some time afterwards discussing the story and decided that the next time we were in Washington, DC we should stop by the Post Office museum to see Owney, persevered by taxidermy as well as his bronze statue out front.
-Mr. Karl Cooper, Jr.