by Dennis Dalman
Douglas Wood of Sartell, who is known in some circles as “Minnesota’s renaissance man,” is a musician, a wilderness guide and an award-winning author whose 39th book – a children’s book – was just published.
Wood’s long-time fans and new ones can greet Wood at a book-signing from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at Barnes & Noble in St. Cloud where he will autograph his new book for customers.
The book is also available via Amazon.com, and signed copies can be purchased at www.douglaswood.com.
Wood’s wife, Kathy, who is a piano/music teacher, inspired the title and theme of the book: “I Love You Little, I Love You Lots.” One day, at home, Kathy was teaching music to kindergartners when a phrase popped out of her mouth: “I love you little, I love you lots.”
Wood, also at home, overheard Kathy’s words.
“It was a wonderful phrase,” Wood recalled. “I loved it and built the rest of the text on that.”
Brimming with whimsical illustrations, tells the story of two best friends – a brown dog and a gray cat. Together, always together, they pursue a series of fun adventures: fishing from a boat, climbing hills, riding trains, venturing into a desert, visiting mountains, plunking down at an ocean’s beach, relaxing on a breezy, flower-filled meadow.
“I Love You Little, I Love You Lots” is a book composed of whimsical, clever, endearing rhymes – the kind that cause children (and yes, even grown-ups) to smile and chuckle with delight.
At the desert, the cat tells the dog:
“I love you low
I love you high
My love for you
Could reach the sky
Could lasso the moon
And pull down the stars
Make a necklace of
Jupiter, Venus and Mars.”
While riding two trains on the same track, the dog – on a train’s caboose – yells to the cat, who is in the locomotive in another train:
“I love you forward!”
The cat shouts, “I love you back!”
Then dog presents to the cat the following verbal bouquet:
“Put my love
On a railroad track
Pulling 200 cars and 5 red cabooses
Blowing its whistle
Wherever it chooses.”
Wood said he is very pleased with the book, especially how the words and illustrations are a “perfect marriage.” Published by Scholastic Press, the book’s delightful drawings were created by G. Brian Karas, an award-winning illustrator who lives in New York state’s Hudson Valley.
Wood wrote his first version of “I Love You Little, I Love You Lots” about three years ago, but after that he kept “messing with it,” editing, re-writing, fine-tuning. Then, delays in publishing and various glitches had Wood waiting. But it was worth the wait, he said.
Wood is the author of a book widely recognized as a classic of children’s literature, a book published in 2001 entitled “Old Turtle,” which won a slew of prizes throughout the world, including the American Booksellers Association’s Book of the Year.
“Old Turtle” was such an instant classic that Wood toured the nation for several years, giving book-signings, readings and presentations.
Wood, who lives in a log home along the Mississippi River, leads a busy but fulfilling life.
He and Kathy have two sons, both raised in Sartell. Eric is a naturopath doctor and lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Bryan lives in Lindstrom and is the executive director of the Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center near Sandstone.
Wood dedicated “I Love You Little, I Love You Lots” to his three grandchildren: Maya and Henry (Bryan’s children) and Sofie (Eric’s daughter).
Both sons are musically inclined, no surprise at all since music seems to be thrumming in the DNA strands of the family. Kathy, who taught public school for 35 years, gives piano/music lessons in their home. For years, Douglas has sung and played many instruments (banjo, guitar, mandolin) in a three-member bluegrass-style band called “The Wild Spirit Band.” Son Bryan plays bass in the band, and long-time member and good friend Steve Borgstrom plays acoustic guitar.
Born in New York City, Wood moved to North Carolina with his parents when he was only 6 weeks old. He grew up with two brothers. In New York City, Wood’s father, a very fine singer, was working his doctorate at the Union Theological Seminary where he studied sacred music. He sang with the famed Robert Shaw Chorale and performed on the recording of the great conductor Arturo Toscanini’s version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. In North Carolina, Wood’s father taught at Duke University.
Wood’s mother was a classical pianist who gave piano lessons for 72 years, taking an “early retirement” (as Douglas puts it) when she was 89. For the past 16 years of her teaching, she gave lessons in Sartell.
Besides his music and his writing, Wood is passionate about the great outdoors, and many of his books are comprised of essays about his time as a wilderness guide. His next book, his 40th, is entitled “A Wild Path,” an outdoor memoir. One of its essays is called “Beethoven in the Pines,” a meditation about Woods working in the woods while hearing Kathy give piano lessons in her at-home studio. She performs on the same piano that was used by her mother-in-law for so many years – a 1921 Steinway.
New York Revisited
Wood recently returned from a trip to his birthplace, New York City. There, he was hired to give a three-day recorded audio-book reading of “Listening Point” by the late Sigurd F. Olson, one of Minnesota’s great writers. Published in 1958, that book is about the spiritual bond between human beings and the environment.
Olson, who died in 1982 at age 82, lived near Ely and loved and wrote about the Boundary Waters area.
“He was my hero,” Wood said of Olson.
Back to the book
“I Love You Little, I Love You Lots” is already garnering warm praise.
A review on Amazon.com states this:
The book is “an affirmation of love as demonstrated between a rambunctious dog and a sweet cat. Featuring lyrical text by Douglas Wood and endearing, creative illustrations by G. Brian Karas, this picture book celebrates the universality of love, whether between friends or families.”
The following is another excerpt from the book:
The two fast friends, cat and dog, are standing on high green hills above an ocean. A wooden-slat pedestrian bridge connects the two hills.
The dog yells to his friend:
“I love you here
I love you there
I’d love you almost anywhere
Over the hills
And across the sea
Wherever there’s you
Wherever there’s me.”