Row, Row, Row your Boat.
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Originally published in 1993, this cheerful extension of the title song tells of an adventurous badger who sets out to see the world in his little rowboat, lustily singing "Row, row, row your boat" as he goes. His progress down the stream takes him past a variety of playful animals who, hearing his rousing song, ask to join him in his boat. The rowboat eventually becomes so overcrowded that the overwhelmed badger decides to continue his journey alone by train.
On the last page we see the refrain "I've been working on the railroad" begin, along with a train which, unbeknownst to the contented badger at the front, is towing a small rowboat (on wheels) filled with boisterous animals. This surprise ending delights small children, who take great pleasure in the knowledge that the unsuspecting badger is about to be invaded again. This rhyming story begs to be read aloud, and invites children to join in singing the song interspersed throughout.
As with Mary Kovalski's Take me out to the Ball Game and Jingle Bells the song is a catalyst for the events which take place in the story and part of the fun is the interposition of the familiar with the unexpected. The humour is artfully extended in the exuberant pictures, especially in the animals' emotions which are rendered with comic expression.
This paperback reissue of Robin Muller's rollicking story is a welcome addition to the growing body of affordable Canadian books for libraries and children's bookshelves.
Alison Mews is Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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