Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Noah's Ark

Jan Brett's On Noah's Ark is a lavishly illustrated volume sure to appeal to your child's interest in animals. In an interesting twist, the book tells the familiar biblical story from the point of view of Noah's young grandchild (a girl, the jacket cover tells us, but the text and illustrations are gender neutral), who begins by saying:

"Grandpa Noah says that the rains are coming. Soon the land will be covered with water. Grandpa Noah is building an ark for our family and the animals to live on until it stops raining."

The young girl goes on to describe how two of every animal enters the ark. Then it rains and rains for forty days and forty nights. She says the ark is crowded and "the animals push and shove each other...The animals fall asleep all jumbled together." But Noah's granddaughter doesn't sleep. She "tiptoes around and untangle[s] them." Then one day, she sees the sun is shining. The rain has stopped. Grandpa Noah sends out the girl's dove and it comes back with "a fresh green leaf." Grandpa Noah finds land and releases the animals - who scatter about. Some of the animals stay nearby and Noah's granddaughter concludes: "Soon we will all be settled into this new place."

What I Like: I love that Brett tells the tale from a child's perspective. I love the hint at what living on the ark might have been like and the sense of humor as the child "untangles" the animals at night. And I love the illustrations, which are alive with lots of realistic detail that somehow also evokes a little fantasy. Nearly every page shows a wide range of animals, which can lead to some interesting conversations with your children.

What I Dislike: God is never mentioned in this book. We never learn why Noah built the ark, nor why the earth flooded. Therefore, this should not be the only Noah's ark book in your child's collection.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but my 2 year old likes it, too.

Publishing Info: Putnam, 2003; ISBN: 0399240284; hard back, $16.99.

Buy Now at for $12.99.

Special Info: Author Jan Brett's website offers free coloring book pages, activities, and projects for children.

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