CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 22. . . .February 8, 2013
Gubby Builds a Boat.
Gary Kent. Illustrated by Kim La Fave.
Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2012.
48 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
If you enjoyed Fishing with Gubby from this same author/illustrator duo, you will dive into Gubby Builds a Boat too.
From the maps on the end papers to the dialogue in speech balloons to the whimsy of both outdoor and indoor scenes, this book features many elements that will draw young readers in. It is an oversize picture book in dimension but a graphic novel in format.
Gubby Builds a Boat is not just a story about the life of a fisherman in a BC coastal community. There is much information – about fishing, and certainly about boat-building – inserted into the lively text.
Gubby's old boat, 'Flounder,' is at the end of its seaworthy life. Old friend and boat builder Minoru is the obvious choice as the person to construct the replacement.
Minoru learned how to build boats from his dad,
who was one of the best boat builders on the river.
He loves wooden boats and his ship is full of the finest
boat lumber he can find.
Over the next pages, readers see spreads of the entire process of putting a fishing boat together, from the choice of keel timber to the installation of the engine. Interspersed with this are dally events in the lives of Gubby and his young nephew and apprentice Cam.
Seasons go by: Halloween and the fireworks over the water; and 'Santa' arriving by boat to drop off gifts at an orphanage.
"A bunch of us visit the orphanage upriver. Take a few
presents, sing some songs. Want to join us? You'll
make the perfect Santa."
To which Gubby replies
"You betcha. The boys can be elves.
There are many presents for the children.
Where did these come from?"
And Minoru answers:
"Suki's school collects toys every year."
What a lovely way to subtly convey the spirit of giving within this tight-knit community!
Cam's birthday passes, too, and even with many people pitching in, it is summer again before 'Flounder Too' is ready to be launched. The story concludes at the boatworks with a party that has been organized in celebration.
Author Gary Kent draws on his own experience as both fisherman and furniture maker to make the text ring true. Kim La Fave's brown and grey and cream palette is splashed with red, and the illustrations are, as always, delightful in their detail.
Gubby Builds a Boat is a highly recommended purchase for primary collections in school and public libraries.
Ellen Heaney is Head, Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.
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