Dutch isn’t a pot: He’s a cast-iron oven. Following Dutch’s life from when he was first “born” in 1865 through his travels across the prairie in a covered wagon and his arrival in a log cabin home, the story explores generations of a family. The advent of the electric oven leaves Dutch relegated to a barn. After years of languishing without cooking, Dutch is purchased at an estate sale and his new family introduces him to camping. He develops a special relationship with Tyler, one of the children. When Tyler leaves for college, Dutch is worried he’ll be left in the garage, but the teen returns to fetch his cooking companion. With notes reminiscent of Margery Williams’ classic The Velveteen Rabbit, Riddle’s story embraces not only the relationship between a child and a beloved object, but also the joy of cooking outdoors and sharing moments with family. Guess’ gentle ink and paint illustrations give more emotion and personality to Dutch than to the tale’s (mostly pale-skinned) humans, who never quite come to life. The author’s previous nonfiction titles, two volumes of The Keen Camper: Camping With Kids (2017; 2018), pair well with this entertaining fictional story about a piece of camping equipment. Recipes in the back encourage children and their parents to try outdoor cooking.
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