Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 4 to 8
- Grade: k to 3
A humorous exploration of a northern river ecosystem with an intrepid young boatsman is paired with an extended author’s note about its ecology and key species.
Young Ben sets out to explore the river equipped with a sturdy boat, some sample-collection gear, and his scientific curiosity. Along the way he meets a black bear taking a swim, a moose all wobbly and slim, a goose with a gorgeous grin, and a heron all proper and prim…but things really start happening after the owl HOOs loudly on a whim.
With fresh, easygoing verse from author Jen Lynn Bailey and art full of movement and light from illustrator Maggie Zeng, This is the Boat That Ben Built is a compelling entry point for conversations about ecology, food webs, and species diversity. Ben’s excursion—watched from the shore by his mother and faithful dog—is an outdoor adventure pitched perfectly for kids who dream of independence and exploration, parents who value safety and loving supervision, and educators who seek engaging fiction enriched with information. The book concludes with an eight-page Author’s Note that spotlights facts about every animal Ben has met and invites readers to think like an ecologist about the ways in which they are all connected.
About the authors
Jen Lynn Bailey’s passions for environmental science and education are evident in everything she does. After studying Integrated Science Studies at Carleton University and earning her Bachelor of Science in Education at Martin Luther College, she went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has worked on numerous wildlife research studies in the field and in the lab, and has taught both in an elementary school and in a college professional writing program. Today Jen is a policy and planning analyst for Science Promotion and Operations at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Her first picture book, This is the Boat That Ben Built, combines her passions in an engaging introduction to ecology. Jen lives in Ottawa, Ontario.
Maggie Zeng is a children’s book illustrator, graphic designer, concept artist, and animator.
Born in Montreal, she attends Concordia University and previously received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Applied Arts Technologies at Dawson College. Maggie loves making story-driven illustrations that convey a feeling of adventure and wonder through fun characters and magical environments. Her first picture book is This is the Boat That Ben Built.