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4.8 out of 5 stars
Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)
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113 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2000
I grew up in Oregon. My grandmother, who lived in Alaska and Oregon, gave me a copy of this book when I was about 8, many decades ago. I have never forgotten it and have been delighted to find another copy of late.
An Indian boy, landlocked in central Canada, carves of wood a small Indian man in a canoe, and places him on a snowy hillside, with a message on the bottom of his canoe identifying him as "Paddle-To-The-Sea" and pleading with anyone who finds him to put him back in the water so he can complete his long journey -- a journey the boy cannot make himself.
At the spring thaw, the wooden canoe slides down the mountain and into streams, ponds, and eventually the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River. Paddle encounters boats, animals, ships' locks, a forest fire, a sawmill, and many other threats and adventures. Many pairs of hands discover and help him along his mighty journey. One even repaints him after a year or more of bad weathering.
Each chapter-page of the book has a facing full-page painting in rich colors, as well as small marginal illustrations. The book is a great adventure story, but it's also an effective geography lesson for folks who don't live in or know that part of the country. Like someone else wrote, I will never forget that Lake Superior is shaped like a wolf's head and Lake Huron like a fur trapper with a pack on his back. (Can't remember which lake is the carrot and which the piece of coal, though!)
This is a beautiful, classic book for older children, which should remain in print for generations to come. I can't wait until my niece is old enough to be ready for a copy.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Paddle-To-The-Sea was one of the first long books my mother read to me [early 60's] and one of the first long books I read on my own. Many elements make this a fantastic book for elementary school-age children: it is an excellent geography lesson, teaching the reader about the Great Lakes region; it shows a character being creative and sending his creation out into the world without knowing if there will be a return for his actions; the payoff for the carver of Paddle-To-The-Sea comes only after a long period of time. When I spent the summer of 1966 in Minnesota with my family, we visited many of the places in the book including Lake Superior. I remember how much the book informed that summer. Several years ago I revisited Lake Superior for the first time since '66 and the images of a small carved Native American in a canoe were still on my mind. Give this book to a young person so they can take its literary journey and have it leave them with a lasting impression.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 1999
I read "Paddle to the Sea" as a young girl and havebeen in love with the story ever since. Rich in information about theGreat Lakes and beautifully illustrated it should be a must read forall grade school children in and around the Great Lakes. I have felt that for over 40 yrs. People will ask me how I know so much about the Great Lakes. I just smile and think of "Paddle".
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 13, 2005
I remember encountering Paddle to the Sea as a second grader in Oregon. It's one of those books that was shared during library day, and I still haven't forgotten it. It was significant to me as a child, and it's still significant today. It's the wonder and amazement of how a wooden carved canoe with its lone Indian paddler referred to as "Paddle" could journey from his origins, Nipigon Country, to the Sea towards the Grand Bank and France, could confront eye-popping experiences. Paddle sees the serene sounds of the cool Canadian waters, and the bewilderment of man's progress with a sawmill and its smoke-pipe buildings, which author, Holling Clancy Holling, ferociously describes as a monster eating away nature's domain -- tearing down trees and running an assembly line of log jams.

Despite that scene, Paddle to the Sea contains imagery and imagination, which makes the book memorable. The artwork is great, and Holling's very descriptive language and familiarity of geography makes this book a learning experience. I found chapter 24 to be quite interesting because of its short snippet of history -- the discovery of the Great Lakes region, Champlain "the Father of New France" and the Iroquois. Every chapter in the book, all twenty seven, covers each different region that Paddle flows through, and bears significance to how the free-flowing waters, be it Lake Superior or the crashing waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, cannot stop a wooden canoe and its Indian paddler from riding through.

Every child should read Paddle to the Sea, or have it read to them. And as for older children or adults that still want to revisit their curiosity of imagination, they will definitely find it unforgettable. You never forget about the books that touch you in some way.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2001
This book brings back fond memories of a wonderful childhood growing up in rural Michigan. It was a permanent fixture on the bookshelf in the old Berville school house when I was just a boy in the 60's. There was even a slide show version shown occasionally when the weather was too nasty to play outside.
The adventure so inspired my brother and me that we fashioned our own "Paddles" out of our lunch-time milk cartons. We launched them in the late spring snow drifts that filled a drainage ditch. Our imaginations took those little waxed paper cartons to the ends of the earth.
Mr. Holling's images invite the young reader to enter this world of the Great Lakes and envelopes like a favorite blanket. I remember gazing at each scene for long periods of time searching for Paddle, who sometimes appears as just a tiny bit of red lost in a world of moving water.
Children find this book as riveting today as I did in my youth. I gave a copy to my friend's son a few years ago and he loves it. The way of life on the Great Lakes may have changed significantly since the book was written in 1941, but children's imaginations and sense of adventure have not. This book should be on every school and home bookshelf.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2003
I read my husband's worn copy of Paddle-To-The-Sea to my children, then to grandchildren. It's faded, dog-eared, worn at the edges and a little tattered, but it'll survive another generation of loving use, I'm sure. One of the true childhood classics, Paddle-To-The-Sea is a rare entity: a cross genre book for kids. The story of the little carved Native American canoe's trip from the North Country to the Sea is an adventure story, a geography lesson, a history lesson, and in some ways, it's even a romance. There are wonderful drawings, accurate maps - and an utterly engaging story. It's worth finding a copy in hardcover to buy, because you're going to want it to last as long as my husband's copy has, for sure, for sure.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 1999
This children's book is a story of an Indian boy in Canada near Lake Nipigon (just north of Lake Superior) who carves a model of an Indian sitting in a canoe. In addition, he carves a name on the bottom of the canoe: "Paddle-to-the-Sea." The boy then sets it in the late winter snow and watches as the canoe follows the melting snow on its way to Lake Superior. The book then follows the canoe all the way to France. Children of all ages seem to love this book. And, it doesn't seem to matter what decade it is when they first read it. The book was a 1942 Caldecott Honor book (i.e., a runner-up to the Medal winner) for best illustration in a children's book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 1998
I first came across this book while looking through my father's collection of childhood books, and started reading it because he recommended it so enthusiastically. I've read it many times since -- some books are richer the more you return to them -- and even now, I think of Lake Superior as a wolf's head and Lake Huron as a fur trapper. When, as an adult, a business trip took me to Detroit (my first time in the Great Lakes region), I drove eight hours at night after my meetings to see Sault Ste. Marie, because my impressions of "The Soo" were so vivid from having read Paddle-to-the-Sea twenty years before. This is a terrific book that stays with you.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2004
Although this book is quite old, I had never read it before. What a wonderful book I've missed out on! This is a timeless book that encompasses a great story, history, geography, and the good will of people. There were a few lines that made me a bit uncomfortable that referred to Indians, but they really did seem to blend well with the story, and by the end of the book I had a deep appreciation for them. It's quite complicated, short chapter book with some very advanced vocabulary that would be hard for younger children.
I think young kids would like it because of the great story. Older kids would like it because of the huge amount of geography involved, and they could really get into looking at all the maps and follow the path the canoe takes on the way to the ocean. I also think kids in the upper Midwest would learn a lot about their area and maybe a little bit about the Indians who have been in this area for a lot longer than any of us. I really liked the way the author incorporated the different ports the canoe came upon and mentioned things about the town. For example, Duluth was described as "a city on a hill" with iron ore as its export. There were also really nice parts about the wildlife, the storms, and the general scenery that the canoe encounters.
Besides the wonderful story, the drawings and illustrations are exceptional. There are illustrations of the route that the canoe took along with an arrow pointing where paddle-to-the-sea is now. There are illustrations showing a sawmill, a canal lock, a breeches buoy, and a lake freighter. I believe this book would be great to study as a class by bringing out the history of the great lakes region, the history of Native Americans in the region, geography of the great lakes region, and the biology of the region.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2005
Filled with beautiful illustrations, a captivating story that will fill any child, boy or girl, with wonder, and create a great appreciation for the majesty of the Great Lakes and the lore of the north country. I'm a 70 year old woman who still remembers it well and was delighted to discover it still in print and available at amazon.com. I just send a copy to my son-in-law who lives on Lake Erie and he loved it! It's a treasure!
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