Review of Building

Building Building
by Henry Cole; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Tegen/HarperCollins    40 pp.   g
6/22    978-0-06-313655-7    $17.99

Sharing yet another example of the intricacies of animal home construction (see Nesting, rev. 3/20), Cole introduces readers to the masters of the trade: beavers. A practiced storyteller, Cole employs an engaging refrain (“Building, building. That is what beavers do best”) to emphasize this theme as he constructs a year in the life of one beaver family. During the last days of winter in a bleak wood—breathtakingly illustrated with fine ink lines, crosshatching, and a faint sky-blue wash—a male and female search for a place to build their lodge. They select a stream with ample willow and maple trees, and, busy as, well, beavers, they begin cutting the trees, sizing the limbs, lugging them into the water, and creating a dam. Readers see time pass, first as wisps of green leaves announce spring; but soon, as a pond forms, this spot of color spreads to the surrounding grass and trees. The beavers construct a lodge, snug enough for three newborn kits and sturdy enough to withstand a strong storm. As the year progresses, they continue building and repairing. A few rust-colored leaves appear; the beavers prepare for winter, retreating to their sheltered snow-covered home. Neighboring wildlife departs, all color disappears, and a hush settles over the now-barren land, bringing this wondrous account full circle. Appended with a brief author’s note.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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