Donna Benedetti grew up in Petaluma, California, a farming community north of San Francisco, at a time when life was slow and the city population sign remained fixed at 15,500. She left the comforts and predictability of small town life to travel and study, eventually earning a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a certificate from the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. Since then, she has taught philosophy to students of all ages and served in key administrative roles at the American Philosophical Association, the Trust for Public Land and the Trauma Foundation. She currently teaches critical thinking and reading to first graders at an inner city school in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband Sam Bloom.
“A witty introduction to boats and a useful reference for youngsters.”
– Kirkus Reviews
A lively book of children’s verse that captures the excitement of seeing boats of all sizes.
Two dozen riddles, all written as poems, introduce the many kinds of boats that readers might see on a trip around San Francisco Bay, from floating homes to oil tankers to the historic tall ship Balclutha. After each riddle, the book reveals the name of each type of boat, accompanied by a list of facts. Some descriptions are fairly straightforward: “Speedboats can travel as fast as 60 miles per hour in choppy waters and 90 miles per hour in calm waters.” Others are thought-provoking and complex: “Crabbers want to make sure crabs are protected and plentiful. So when they pull up their traps, they keep only the ‘legal’ crabs…and throw the others back.” (“Legal” crabs, the author explains, are male crabs at least 6 1/4 inches in diameter.) This photo-filled book will likely hold the attention of little landlubbers reading aloud with their parents, as well as that of older kids with a sustained interest in all things maritime. Benedetti (Tip Top Thinkamajigs, 2012, etc.) includes specific pointers on where to see each boat in the Bay Area—cruise ships at San Francisco’s Pier 35 and tugboats at Pier 50, for example—making it a fun guide for both visitors and residents. The verses vary in energy and quality, sometimes stilted but sometimes peppy and light, as in a description of a rowboat, for example: “I sit low in the waters / Near seals, fish and otters. / I’ve never needed motors / Or wheels, gas or rotors.” Parents of younger children will find them to be fun read-aloud introductions; older readers, however, will likely page right past them to get to the facts. It’s easy to imagine a boat-obsessed kid dreaming of a first trip to the ocean and poring over the photos, verses, trivia, maps, nautical terminology and activities provided here.
A witty introduction to boats and a useful reference for youngsters.
Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013
Page count: 80pp
Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013
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