Friday, June 29, 2012

Water Babies

When summer hits, most of us hit the beach. Boat Works by Tom Slaughter makes an ideal guide to harbor-gazing.

Bold, predominantly primary colors and geometric shapes dominate the pages. Triangles for sails, circles for portholes and life preservers, rectangular docks and cars being ferried offer youngest children plenty to point to and name.

A mystery literally unfolds to the solution. The author-artist reveals one detail at a time as the accordion page extends to complete the giant square image. In this way, he directs our attention to the little things that make each boat unique—the sail on a sailboat, the oars of a rowboat. As children revisit the book, they’ll be able to name the anchor, the rope that ties the tugboat to the ocean liner, and also to understand the tugboat’s job—to pull the larger boats (heartening for any small person who wants to stand up and be counted among the bigger people).

The design of the book makes for an ideal guessing game. Each turn of the page exposes a little more information about the boat in question and also completes a little more of the picture. With repeated readings, children will feel smarter as they guess the right answer sooner. And even if you’re not headed to the beach, Boat Works makes a great pre- or post-bathtime read, to complement your child’s experience sailing his or her own boats through the bubbles in the tub. Here’s to smooth sailing!

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