Fort-Building Time

illus. by Abigail Halpin. 32p. Knopf. Oct. 2017. Tr 16.99. ISBN 9780399556555.
PreS-Gr 1— This colorful tribute to the perennial childhood occupation of fort-building follows a group of children through the seasons as they use materials at hand to create cozy private spaces. Lloyd uses hyphenated adjectival participles to create a rhythmic description of each season. Winter is "snowball-throwing, scarf-wrapping, sled-pulling, ice-sliding time"—reminding readers that each time of year is a perfect "fort-building" too. Winter's garlanded igloo is replaced by a bedsheet and blanket tent in the woods. It is followed by a driftwood and beach towel lean-to that gives way to a hut covered with branches and leaves, and ends with a near-catastrophe as a pet dog "helps out." Engaging with their natural environment and with one another in the building process, children can also use creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork. Halpin's sweet, detailed watercolor-and-pencil drawings of a diverse group of friends enjoying the outdoors and working together will encourage readers to see the potential in their own environments. Linguistic and narrative parallels reinforce a sense of movement and activity and create opportunities for word work. At a time when more children look to screens for their fun, this book might remind them to look around instead.
VERDICT Use in the classroom for fun project-based learning, or at home with your sheets and couch cushions. Recommended.

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