Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man
by Robert McCloskey/ published 1963 by Viking Penguin
Growing up with only Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine, I never knew this one existed until a few days ago when I found it at a thrift shop. My friend who collects vintage children's books recently showed me a book he illustrated called The Man Who Lost His Head (I'll be posting on that in the next few days) which caused me to be on the look out for more of his stuff. (She also let me fondle her copy of Mervyn Peake’s Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, but I haven't been able to find that one for under $30.)
Burt Dow was McCloskey's last book, and it is still in print from Puffin. Sixty-three pages that tell the amazing story of a retired seaman and how he comes to share his band-aids with a whale pod.
The Tidely-Idley is the pride and joy of Burt's life, and between odd jobs for natives and summer people he keeps her painted and patched as best he can. Every time he does a paint job, he brings home the leftover paint and uses it on the Tidely-Idley.
This salty, old sea-dog takes his multi-colored boat with the "make-and-break" engine on a cod fishing trip he won't soon forget. Burt gives whale-tail first aid. Burt gets swallowed by said whale. Burt goes all Jackson Pollock on said whale's insides. Burt then gets spat out into an ocean of said whale's brightly-colored sperm friends. The old coot is a gas and his seagull sidekick laughs along with him through this unlikely (but hysterical) adventure.
My favorite line from the book?
"I never did see," said Burt, "so many tons of contentment come from out of such a little old band-aid box!"
One Morning in Maine
The Man Who Lost His Head
Make Way for Ducklings
Journey Cake, Ho!