On The Bunyans

Family Vacation. Unlike the Hollywood portrayal, our vacations have not yet included hotel robberies, assaulting a moose named Wally, or off-roading in the beloved Family Truckster. (Although I will say that if ‘ol Sparky was planning a road trip in 2012, he would surely be driving something that resembles our current mini-van.) But we have had our fair share of family road trips where the destination was a beloved national treasure, like our recent trip to the world’s largest box of raisins.

What… not on your bucket list?

Well I would bet that many of the wonders talked about in this week’s Perfect Picture Book, THE BUNYANS, actually are on your list of places to visit someday…Mammoth Cave, Bryce Canyon, Niagra Falls, and Big Sur to name a few. In this fanciful continuation of the Paul Bunyan story, we meet his wife and two kids, and find out that Paul was not alone in his ability to make a mark on the North American landscape.


  • Written by: Audrey Wood
  • Illustrated by: David Shannon
  • Published by: The Blue Skye Press, 1996
  • Suitable for: Ages 4 and up
  • Topics/Themes: American folklore, Tall Tales, Legends, Geography, National Landmarks
  • Opening: “Storyteller’s note: Now I suppose that you have heard about the mighty logger Paul Bunyan and his great blue ox named Babe. In the early days of our country, Paul and Babe cleared the land for the settlers, so farms and cities could spring up. And you probably know that Paul was taller than a redwood tree, stronger than fifty grizzly bears, and smarter than a library full of books. But you may not know that Paul was married and had two fine children.
  • Synopsis: Come along with Paul Bunyan, his wife Carrie, and their two children, Little Jean and Teeny, as they travel through North America and leave in their wake some of our most unique landmarks.
  • Links to Resources: Scholastic has a wonderful lesson plan for this book available on their website. My favorite part of their lesson plan is to put a giant map on the wall and spend time going through each landmark in the book and placing it on the map. This would also be a great book to read before you head out on any family road trips, as you could examine the plausibility of each “explanation” for how the landmark came to be. You could then do some research with kids to find out the REAL explanations for how these places were formed. I also loved Audrey Wood’s take on the collaboration process with David Shannon, found on her website here.
  • Why I Like this Book: First I have to say that if you are a fan of David Shannon’s artwork, you are going to be blown away by this book. Check out this picture of The Bunyan’s daughter, Teeny, bathing in the newly created Niagra Falls:
    If you have an extra $3200.00 lying around, you can buy this original, autographed art!

    Pretty great, huh? The creativity of both Audrey Wood and David Shannon in this book is really inspirational. My favorite part? When Ma Bunyan gets tired of finding hot water to do their gargantuan dishes and laundry. The result? Old Faithful. There is also a shot of a retired Paul and Carrie Bunyan playing croquet in Arches National Park. Hilarious. I mean, it’s no giant box of raisins, but it will do…

See what else is cooking over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog on this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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  • Catherine_mrsj

    Wow, that box of raisins is cool. That looks like a great book with very creative and beautiful illos.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      Also included on that same trip was a visit to the world’s largest olive in Lindsay, CA. Do we know how to live it up, or what?

  • http://beinglauraboffa.wordpress.com/ Laura Boffa

    Sounds like a great read – I love Audrey Wood and David Shannon.  And the world’s largest box of raisins has definitely been added to my bucket (or box) list.  Thanks for sharing!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       My kids were mightily disappointed when they found out there weren’t actually raisins in the box. I think they wanted a snack :-)

      Yes, Audrey Wood and David Shannon are brilliant together.

  • Barbara Watson

    Wow! The artwork looks amazing! And the story…fasicinating. I love the idea that Paul had a wife and kids. Another bucket list item for you: visit Paul and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, MN. :-)

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       I actually have family in the northwoods of Minnesota and Paul seems to be everywhere up there! I haven’t been to the “official” Paul and Babe statue, though. Definitely one to add to the list!

  • Joanna Marple

    I used to love reading all the American tall tales to kids when I was school librarian. This looks like another fine addition!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

      Tall tales sure are fun! Kids do love them. Thanks for commenting, Joanna!

  • http://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/ Julie Rowan-Zoch

    Nice print – let me check for change under the mattress! Have this one on hold already!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       LOL, Julie. The couch cushions are usually more of a money-maker for me :-)

  • Mirka Breen

    That giant Raisin Lady fits well with those Bunyans.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       LOL, Mirka! Why, yes, she does!

  • Kirsten Larson

    What an amazing book. I am so used to Don Wood illustrating for Audrey Wood. Who would have thought she paired up with David Shannon. I can’t wait to read this and start talking about national landmarks.

  • Heather

    I picked up this book at the library ages ago when my oldest was small and had forgotten all about it! Thank you for reviewing this one, I love David Shannon’s art and I can’t wait to rediscover this book.

  • Erik The Great

    I never thought about Paul being a husband and a father! I want to read more about this!
    Erik – A.K.A. This Kid Reviews Books

  • http://twitter.com/StacySJensen Stacy S. Jensen

    We’ll add this to our summer list. Not sure what trips we will take this year. I enjoyed the post from her website about the collaboration process. Those always interest me. Thanks. 

  • http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com/ Vivian Kirkfield

    Oh my goodness, Amy!  What a great fun book for any time of the year, but especially with summer around the corner and people going to some of these “landmarks” across the country.  I loved the tale of Paul Bunyan…and I love the illustrations of David Shannon…so I guess I must add this book to my “got-to-have-it” list. :)  Thanks for the activities/resources also!