This is the Boat that Ben Built by Jen Lynn Bailey, illustrated by Maggie Zeng. Pajama Press, 2022. 9781772782424
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Genre: Realistic fiction/picture book
What did you like about the book? This book in rhyme borrows the scheme of ‘The House that Jack Built’, and perks it up with a nature theme. Set in the Northern Forest, the story starts with Ben putting the finishing touches on a rowboat, then setting off down the river, with his pet dog and Mom keeping apace on shore. The progressive rhyme relates how the fish, the beaver, the loon, and other animals coexist in the forest around him. When the hoot of owl startles the heron, a comedy of reactions takes place, ending with fish jumping right into Ben’s boat.
This is a sweet, rhyming early look at ecosystems in the forest. Back matter talks about keystone species, and asks readers questions about the story. The digital art gently stylizes people and animals and nicely complements the simple, predictable rhyming.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Some of the illustrations don’t quite sync with the text, but kids will still enjoy the rhythmic rhyme and animal antics.
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 3-7. This would be fun for story time, and for early elementary school nature units.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: February 5, 2022