Hold the Upgrades! Big Bear's Big Boat by Eve Bunting
Big Bear is moving on up! He's outgrown his beloved little red boat, passed it on to his little brother, and is putting the finishing touches on his new boat, a blue beauty of a rowboat with plenty of leg room for a growing bear. But just as he's ready to launch it into Huckleberry Lake, he meets up with a critic.
"THAT'S A VERY FINE BOAT," SAID BEAVER. "BUT A BIG BOAT LIKE THAT NEEDS A MAST."
"MAYBE YOU'RE RIGHT," BIG BEAR SAID.
But no sooner has Big Bear added a rather bent birch tree trunk and rigged a raggedy sail, than Otter swims by with another idea.
"ALL BIG BOATS HAVE A TOP DECK SO YOU CAN WATCH THE SUN SET INTO THE LAKE AND THE MOON RISE OVER IT."
Half-heartedly, Big Bear nails some irregularly-sized boards across the gunwales. But then Blue Heron soars past, with yet another suggestion
"ALL BIG BOATS HAVE A CABIN."
Dutifully, Big Bear builds a makeshift lean-to cabin and erects in on the stern. He steps back and eyes his construction with a critical appraisal.
"WHAT AN UGLY BIG BOAT I'VE MADE. THE MAST LEANS OVER, THE DECK SLANTS,AND THE CABIN IS HIGGLEDY-PGGLEDY.
THIS BOAT IS NOT MY DREAM."
Big Bear's beautiful blue boat, once so trim and shipshape, has become a design disaster, with the look (like the camel)of being designed by a committee.
"First to thine own self be true," is the theme of noted author Eve Bunting's Big Bear's Big Boat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). Although it's good to be open to ideas from others, sometimes less is more, especially in the case of unsolicited advice. Bunting's forthcoming little cautionary tale puts a lot of wisdom into its simple story, while Nancy Carpenter's illustrations, done in an appealing 1950s retro style, add to the beauty of this well-built, not too-fancy, just right story.