CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 25. . . .March 5, 2010.
Beau Beaver Goes to Town.
Frances Bloxam. Illustrated by Jim Sollers.
Camden, ME: Down East Publishing (Distributed in Canada by Nimbus), 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Stories in rhyme.
Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.
Review by Margaret Snow.
If you wake up at dawn with a tail in your face,
you can be pretty sure that you've run out of space.
A family of beavers, in their lodge made of sticks,
had a problem with room that nothing could fix.
So Barney and Bennie and Becky and Beau
were told by Ma Beaver, "It's time that you go!"
You've learned to cut trees, build a lodge and a dam.
Pa Beaver and I taught you all that we can.
It's time that you left and went out on your own
to find a good mate and build a lodge home.
Author Frances Bloxam of Bath, ME, has completed her third picture book (previous titles are Little Tom Turkey and Antlers Forever) keeping with her characteristic style of writing picture books in verse that increase knowledge of animals, explain why they have certain behaviours and introduce vocabulary (lodge, kit, etc.). Words flow in rhyming couplets in this light-hearted, engaging 32 page book filled with facts and smiles for young children. Welcoming watercolour pictures abound by award-winning illustrator, Jim Sollers of Rockland, ME. Blues and greens dominate each page, giving a "welcome to nature" feeling.
The story opens when the four beaver siblings are being sent out into the world to become self-sufficient. Each heads in a different direction, finding a stream to the west, pond to the east and a brook to the south. Unfortunately, our protagonist, Beau Beaver, heads north in rougher terrain. He happens upon an unfriendly porcupine who sends him on his way. As nightfall closes in on him, he discovers "shallow water," not realizing it is the drainage ditch through a town. He commences to build a dam so that he might construct his lodge in deeper water. Finding mud and sticks to get started, he searches for more building materials and incorporates a rake, barbeque, toys and more from the surrounding neighbourhood. All that he needs is a tree to stabilize his structure, and, voila, he comes across the perfect specimen. Unfortunately, it is in a human's front yard. As Beau gnaws through, it crashes on the homeowner's car. Beaver Control is called in to trap and relocate Beau away from civilization. As he checks out his new area, he discovers young Brenda Beaver, and the two commence on a future together, living happily ever after.
Not only are facts interspersed in the story, but Beau Beaver Goes to Town culminates with three pages of factual information about beavers in question and answer format and which covers topics such as physical description, enemies, homes, young and food.
I used this book for a bedtime story with my three and five-year-old grandsons, and they found it fascinating. I also incorporated it in a lesson with Junior Kindergarten thru Grade 3 students who were eager to share their knowledge of what one could learn about beavers through reading this book. The younger students loved the beat of the lyrics while the older children felt the author did not talk down to them and taught them interesting facts. The book’s contents led to quite a discussion about man crowding out natural habitats of animals. The Grade 3 students said the only thing that would have made it better was listing age appropriate websites about beavers.
With the positive reception received from all with whom I shared Beau Beaver Goes to Town, I would highly recommend it.
Margaret Snow is a teacher-librarian, computer and media literacy teacher in a small, rural school in Southwestern Ontario.
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