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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  5,463 ratings  ·  319 reviews
A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea. Paddle's journey, in text and pictures, through the Great lakes to the Atlantic Ocean provides an excellent geographic and historical picture of the region.
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published February 19th 1980 by Turtleback Books (first published September 9th 1941)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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I don't think this would make a great bedtime story as it would take about 30-45 minutes to read it aloud at least. It is a full page of text with a full picture. It would make a great first reader book for someone who wants to read a story if they enjoy more history things.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it charming and interesting and a story that drew me in. It was a fun journey exploring the lakes and waterways of the great lakes out to the sea. A young boy up in Canada makes a canoe
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Canadian Indian boy carves a small wooden canoe with a little figure in it, named Paddle-to-the-Sea. He places it on top of a snow-laden hill, and leaves. Soon the snow starts melting and Paddle starts on his voyage. He slides into a brook, leading to Lake Superior, and from there to the other Great Lakes.

This book is halfway between a regular picture book and an illustrated book. Each left-hand page is filled with text, a chapter, describing a stage of the voyage. These text pages are
Luisa Knight
Full of lush descriptions of nature, you'll follow one wooden carving's journey from Lake Superior all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. And I don't know your child will want to try something similar from a river or stream you live next to. It sure would be fun!

Ages: 7+
Note: this book is wordier than most picture books so will take over 30 minutes to read (it is broken into chapters).

**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, autumn
I found this book the day before Bay Books, an independent bookseller, closed its doors in Concord, California. Perhaps I should say that the book found me. Why would I buy a children's book? It must have been the local book dragon whispering in my ear, for I am grateful for this great find.

The author takes us on a trip that starts in the great northern wastes of Canada, and we follow the carved toy through the wilderness and down in to the Great Lakes of the States. Along the way, we find out
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
"I am Paddle to the sea, please put me back in the water..."

This is another book I remember reading over and over. I can still picture some of the wonderful illustrations in my mind from this book. The cute little hand carved canoe on it's own adventure. It makes a strong case for taking care of the environment, beautiful pictures, and a wonderful "message in a bottle" type story-line.

I can see the little canoe and it's totem paddler stuck in the log about to get cut at the saw mill when the
Mark Hartzer
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing

50 years ago I was a bored and irritable 10 year old stuck looking for something to do and I climbed the stairs in the old Carnegie Library in Hayward, WI hoping to kill some time. Thankfully, I was able to ditch my little brother in the kiddie stuff an went looking for something, anything, that would relieve my boredom. Somehow, I stumbled on to this book. I was transformed. It kindled a lifelong love of the outdoors, travel and the environment.

The illustrations are magnificent. Look at the
J. Boo
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to J. by: Annis Duff's "Bequest of Wings"
Shelves: read-to-kids
"I am Paddle To The Sea
Please put me back into the water"

An Indian boy, living on a river north of Lake Superior, writes this on the bottom of his carving of an Indian in a canoe, and sets Paddle on his way. Helped by the people he meets on the way, Paddle-to-the-sea travels through each of the Great Lakes on his way to the ocean.

Another wonderfully told and illustrated story from Holling Clancy Holling, who provides an emotional hook to the adventures of the inanimate Paddle, and serves as an
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (With Caveat) Young Readers Interested in the Great Lakes Region
In twenty-seven brief "chapters" - each of which consists of a single page of text, decorated with black and white illustrations, and paired with a full-page color painting - Holling Clancy Holling sets out the story of "Paddle-to-the-Sea," a miniature wooden canoe carved by a young Indian boy in Nipigon country, Canada, and then sent out on a long journey toward the sea. As the canoe travels on its way, it journeys through all five of the Great Lakes, with detours and unexpected stops along the ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book to my seven and nine year old, and everyone enjoyed it. Most of the books that I have read to my children are ones that I remember enjoying from when I was younger, but this was my first time reading this wonderful story. We did not read it all at once, we only read one or two pages a day, but every day they were begging me to read more. No one was allowed to read a head but I could see both of my older children itching to pick it up and look through it. Now that we have ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite book from childhood. For years after reading it, I made plans for setting free little boats on various rivers. One idea was to attach a radio transmitter so I'd know one day my boat actually made it to the ocean. It hasn't happened yet...but I still dream...
David Anthony
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Holling C. Hollings 1941 book Paddle-to-the-Sea was the first grand adventure story I read as a child. Not that I read it in 1941. Im not that old. I read it in the 70s. Nevertheless, decades later, Ive not forgotten it or the sense of wonder it instilled in me. I still love adventure stories today. They never get old.

The book follows the journey of Paddle, a 12-inch, handmade pine canoe complete with a wooden Native American pilot, as it travels from Lake Nipigon, Canada all the way to the
Kevin Keating
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I don't know if I've ever actually read this book before. I kinda knew what it was about but it turned out to be a great little book. You have to find Paddle in all of the pictures. Meanwhile, it teaches about the economic of the Great Lakes region, including how sea locks work and how the block and tackle can be used to rescue sailors. Awesome little book. I'll read it to my grandkids someday. Everyone else seems to have already read this book, but what the heck. Glad I finally did.
We read-aloud over the course of a few days. Fascinating journey and believable. Much to learn here. Loved the ending!
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE, Young and Old!
LOVE LOVE LOVE! I had no idea this book would be such a treasure! The story was interesting, exciting, educational (shhhh), and just downright fun to read! My 5th grader and I would easily trade off reading the one page chapters back and forth to each other.

Since we live in Texas and have no experience with the Great Lakes area, this was thoroughly intriguing to us. We "explored" with Paddle-to-the-Sea along his adventure. The story gave many opportunities for my son to pick out figurative
Katie Fitzgerald
I never read this book, or even heard of it, during childhood, and even as an adult, I wasnt readily drawn to it. Im surprised, therefore, by how much I liked it, and how much I took away from reading it. In the Canadian wilderness a boy carves a Paddle Person and sets him on a snowbank, hoping when the snow melts, the small boat will find its way to sea. The story then follows the boat on its journey through the Great Lakes and eventually to the Atlantic. What I liked most was the fact that so ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: geography, own
49 months - I really enjoyed reading this with my daughter. I was expecting it to be about a real person paddling the Great Lakes but this idea is much more creative. A great geography lesson and lots of other learning too. Great vocabulary about nature. It would be fantastic to have a newer version of this book with more vivid colors in the illustrations. The art style is very much Group of Seven-esque. A good story to introduce my little dual citizen to natural connection and resources the two ...more
Robert Davis
**** Caldecott Honor (1942) ****

I really enjoyed this story of a carved indian canoe making a journey from the Upper Great Lakes of Canada all the way to Atlantic Ocean and beyond. The color images are spectacular, and it's fun finding the canoe, named "Paddle-To-The Sea" in each picture. Not so great are the black & white images, which can be difficult to decipher, but are nonetheless interesting. Some have referenced the use of the word "injun" as a problem, but really it is not used
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have one of the original hardbound copies (in terrible shape) that we found at a sale in Ocean Grove, NJ. I have read it many times since then. Never wanting to give it away or sell it. A lovely story from the Midwest. I have now lived in Minnesota for almost 50 years and the story is even more precious now.
The Bookworms
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beth (7): I like the ending part because it was happy and it was very surprising too. I thought it was a very long journey Paddle took! There were lots of dangerous seas and lakes along the way.
Noah (8): It was very exciting and I loved the end! I loved how he travelled through Lake Superior and Lake Huron and Lake Erie and Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario.
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
Wonderful story! We listened to the audiobook. Tells of a little boat that floats down a river, through the Great Lakes, and eventually to the sea. I especially loved that it referenced places Ive been to (Apostle Islands, Lakes Superior and Michigan), but it would be great for anyone. I showed my kids a map of the Great Lakes so they kinda knew what was going on. Sweet and adventurous story. ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous story. I love reading it to my boys and the history and geography of the Great Lakes is only a bonus.
Lindsay B
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This was NOT a favorite.
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The kids and I really loved this journey through the Great Lakes. What an innovative way to grow more familiar with the history and character of the land we are a part of as Wisconsinites! The kids loved tracing Paddles route using copies of the map included in the end of the book and they raised all kinds of great questions, like why does Wisconsin have one straight line but the others are wiggly? The story captured interest and sparked their curiosity. Were going to read the whole four book ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
A short story with interesting geographical facts intertwined into the story of a wooden 'Paddle Person'.
I had never heard of this book before reading it for my Caldecott Challenge, but I'm glad I did. This is definitely one of the longest Caldecott books I've ever read, so long they don't even put it in the picture book children's section of the library (it was in fiction). It won a 1942 Caldecott Honor. While I wasn't really a fan of the color illustrations (with the exception of the cover page and the two-page map journey in the back of the book), I loved the black and white ones because they ...more
Ann Moody
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all time childhood favorites. A Native American boy's spirit of adventure and exploration is embodied in a beautifully carved bit of the North Woods. It is easy to identify with Paddle as he journeys through waters calm and fierce, to route for him to triumph against the odds and meet his goal of reaching the sea.

The book succeeds primarily because of the Caldecott Honor illustrations. The lead character is a piece of wood, lovingly transformed into a tiny Native American
Hester Rathbone
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I borrowed this from Kristin and really loved it, even though it took me forever to get really and truly into it. I kept trying to read it right before bedtime, which didn't work in my favour. Something about the writing style just had a soporific effect on my already weary mind. I sat down to read this on Friday and made it through, all in one go. I love the writing style, love the little comments in the margins and all of the helpful maps and diagrams throughout.

One of the things I love about
Erik Akre
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: ecology-minded young adults or full adults; much less for younger children
This book was read to me when I was a young child. My rating is from memory, although I still own the book. I think that almost all of my interest in it was based on the pictures, which really are incredible, in true Holling style. I believe this is his most famous book, and I can see why. It is the epic journey of our hero, the little canoe, but also of water itself.

The lower rating is from the subtle distance from it that I felt as a young child, from the story and its minute detail. It loses
1942 Caldecott Honor

Favorite illustration: The large map showing Paddle's journey.

Favorite line: "You will go with the water and you will have adventures that I would like to have." --Chapter 2

Kid-appeal: An interesting story, but it is very long and does contained dated references to Indians as Injuns. I was surprised to hear my neighbor's 5th grade class recently used it in her Waldorf classroom. Could see multi-subject uses for the book with math, language arts and social studies.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this to my 7, 6, and 4 year old. They all loved it. Which actually surprised me, because I thought with how long it was and the descriptions of a sawmill, locks, etc, they might get bored, as they normally do in non-fiction books (it almost reads like non-fiction at times). But no, they were fascinated. I enjoyed it too, although it's a bit long and we had to read it over two nights, and isn't the typical adventure/fairy tale that I usually like to read to my kids. Some reviews said it ...more
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Born in Jackson County, Michigan, in 1900, Holling Clancy Holling graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1923. He then worked in a taxidermy department of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and spent time working in anthropology under Dr. Ralph Linton.

During this period, he married Lucille Webster, and within a year of their marriage accepted a position as art instructor on

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“In the canoe, the Indian smiled. Once he paused in a stroke, and rested his blade. For that instant he looked like his own Paddle. There was a song in his heart. It crept to his lips, but only the water and the wind could hear.

You, Little Traveler! You made the journey, the Long Journey. You now know the things I have yet to know. You, Little Traveler! You were given a name, a true name in my father’s lodge. Good Medicine, Little Traveler! You are truly a Paddle Person, a Paddle-to-the-Sea!”
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