The Boat of Many Rooms
The Story of Noah in Verse
By J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Reg Cartwright
By Lisa Cockrell
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1997. The Boat of Many Rooms. Ill. Reg Cartwright. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-689-80118-1.
Recommended Age level:
This retelling of one of the most familiar Bible stories has a unique twist: it is told in verse. Children will love hearing and reading about Noah and his provision for all the animals. Noah and his family build an ark and then load the animals and lots of food before the rain begins. “For days it rained/ As Heaven wept”. These sometimes unrhymed, sometimes rhymed verses are fun and engaging for both the children listening and the adult reading it to them. The artwork, beautiful oil paintings, adds a nice dimension and provides young audiences with interesting illustrations to accompany the text.
Booklist (Vol. 93, No. 11 (February 1D, 1997)) “Noah’s Ark is probably the Biblical story most retold in picture books. Does your library need another one? It’s hard to say no when the offering is this attractive.”
Horn Book (September, 1997) “This series of poems describes how Noah and his family loaded the ark with a ‘cruising zoo’ and survived the flood. The style of poems, many with quiet humor, varies from page to page, adding interest to the familiar story.”
Kirkus Review (1996) “each poem follows a different rhyme scheme (the many rooms of the title), a novel idea for a collection that tells a single story”
Questions before reading:
Does anyone know who Noah was and why he built an ark? What did he take on the ark with him? How many animals do you think Noah took on the ark with him and his family? Why would Noah’s boat need many rooms? Do you think the tigers would need a room all to themselves? As we read this book, let’s listen for the way the author writes this story.
Suggestions for reading aloud:
Poetry can be written in different forms. The verses in this book sometimes rhyme and sometimes do not rhyme. Discuss rhymes, when they occur.
Talk about the animals presented in the text. Are there some that the students are not familiar with? Search for information about those.
Discuss the illustrations. What medium do the students think the artist used? Do these illustrations add to or detract from the story?
There are many opportunities for vocabulary expansion. Locate an unfamiliar word on each page and allow students to identify a synonym or give a definition. Students could keep a word journal or personal word wall.
Math/Science lesson: Discuss weather patterns, rain storms, flooding, etc. Journal and chart the local weather for a period of time. Graph the results.
Science lesson: Discuss male and female animal names. Research the names of animals presented in the text. Another option is to discuss mother animals and their offspring. Research names of females and their babies for several species.
Language Arts lesson: Students keep a word journal or personal word wall using words they located during the reading. Then they could write a short story, story in verse, or poem about a favorite animal, weather, or another topic selected using words they learned from reading the book.
Writing lesson: After a discussion about the text, provide the following writing prompt: If you were going to be on a boat for six months, what five things would you take with you and why?
Related web sites/blogs:
J Patrick Lewis:
Time Out Chicago Kids, Meet Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis
Blog about J. Patrick Lewis
Animal Research for children:
http://www.pebblego.com/login.php (subscription required)
http://www.ebscohost.com/us-elementary-schools/ebsco-animals (subscription required)
Weather Sites for children:
Other books by J. Patrick Lewis: Spot the Plot: a Riddle Book of Book Riddles (2009), Arithme-Tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes (2007), First Dog (2009), Please Bury Me in the Library (2005), Blackbeard the Pirate King (2006), A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme (2002), and more!
Other children’s books about Noah’s Ark: Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier (1992), Noah’s Ark by Jerry Pinkney (2002), On Noah’s Ark by Jan Brett (2003).
Children’s books about animals: First Animal Encyclopedia by Penelope Arlon (2004), National Geographic Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live (National Geographic Kids) by National Geographic(2010), Encyclopedia of Animals by DK Publishing (2006), What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (2003).