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Children's Fiction General

Patrick and the Backhoe

by (author) Howard White

illustrated by Bus Griffiths

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Jan 1991
General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1991
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1


Beautifully illustrated by BC folk hero Bus Griffiths who wrote and illustrated the popular comic book Now You're Logging, Patrick and the Backhoe is a classic story of decency and guts triumphing over arrogance and greed.

Patrick lives in a little town on the side of a high mountain. Patrick's mother and father own the town bookstore, and his brother Simon is a bookworm. Patrick can't concentrate on books. The only book he likes is Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.

Although no great scholar, Patrick does have a talent with levers and knobs and switches. He likes to take things apart and climb up on things. "Once when he was quite small he learned how to make the door of the car work when Dad was driving, and he fell out on his noggin."

Patrick has a special friendship with his Grampa who operates an old backhoe which Patrick loves "because it has more levers and knobs and buttons on it than anything in the world." Occasionally, Patrick is allowed to ride on the backhoe with Grampa.

One day it begins to rain and doesn't stop. "The creek rose higher and surged under the bridge. Then a big boulder came loose and rolled down the hill, plugging the hole under the bridge. The raging waters of Cypress Creek backed up and began to wash away the land on which the town was built." The only thing that can move that boulder is Grampa's backhoe and when Grampa gets stuck under the bridge it's up to Patrick to save the town.

About the authors

Howard White was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC. He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens`), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria. In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon.

Howard White's profile page

Bus Griffiths (1913-2006) was raised in Vancouver and came
to live in Fanny Bay in 1944. He worked for decades in the logging
industry all over the Fraser Valley and BC Coast, primarily as a faller.

Bus Griffiths' profile page

Excerpt: Patrick and the Backhoe (by (author) Howard White; illustrated by Bus Griffiths)

Patrick was left alone with the backhoe. It looked lonely putt-putting away all by itself with Grampa no where in sight. Patrick felt very sad. He decided he had to do something for his old friend, even if it meant going somewhere he wasn't supposed to. Slowly he climbed up onto the seat of the backhoe. He looked at all the handles and levers and buttonsf and knobs and tried to remember which one he saw Grampa using to turn the motor off. The middle lever he knew was to lower the arm. Beside it was the one that turned the bucket. Beside that was the one that lowered the feet. As he looked at each lever a little thrill rose up inside him, and one little thrill piled up on another little thrill until his sadness went away.

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