Thursday 3 November 2022

This is the Boat that Ben Built

Finished September 25
This is the Boat that Ben Built by Jen Lynn Bailey, illustrated by Maggie Zeng

I loved the illustrations for this picture book, the colour nuances and the way the drawings suggested more beyond what was drawn. There are so many things to draw the eye and make one wonder. One prominent example is the girl and dog watching Ben throughout the book. They aren't in the boat with him, but seem glad to see what he's doing and at the end join him. 
The subtler ones include the butterfly jar on the boat. Sometimes it has a butterfly, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the jar isn't even there. 
There are so many things to look for and notice.
The words are also lovely and so well chosen. A cumulative tale like the classic "The House That Jack Built" rhyme, with the building up of additional elements and yet different too as the actions of the elements change at the high point of the story, creating a disturbance through a domino effect. 
The grey-green colours of the scenes in the book, landscape and water, provide a neutral, natural background that is soothing
The book also includes information after the story, here on the river ecosystem and the concept of ecosystems in general. It also gives information on the animals in the story, introducing concepts such predator and omnivore. The reader is also encouraged to think of ways to add to the story through the use of additional animals in the river ecosystem. 
I like how books like this encourage readers to explore the ideas presented more deeply, while still providing entertainment. 
Jen Lynn Bailey's background in and passion for environmental science and education lend itself to excellence in conveying the concepts here.

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