The Busy Beaver by Nicholas Oldland

The Busy Beaver by Nicholas Oldland
Life in the Wild
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Genre: Children, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The busy but careless beaver spends his days following random impulses, rarely thinking things through and leaving in his wake a devastated forest filled with stumps, half-nibbled trees and injured, homeless animals. But then one day the beaver finds himself on the wrong side of a falling tree, which as it turns out, is just the thing to knock some sense into him. After reflecting on his behavior, he decides to make some changes. Soon, the now wiser and gentler beaver is getting down to the business of making things right, much to the delighted surprise of his forest friends. This charming story from the creator of Big Bear Hug and Making the Moose Out of Life gently teaches youngsters how to take care with others, as well as the world around us.

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Gentleness is a skill that anyone can learn if they work hard enough at it. One of the most interesting things about the beaver in this story to me was that he didn’t realize his normal habits were causing issues for his friends in the beginning. The fact that he wasn’t actively trying to hurt anyone made even his most destructive choices more understandable. Seeing the disconnect between how he saw his actions and how his friends saw them actually made me like him even more because of innocently he intended all of them.

There were some sections that didn’t seem like they were suited well for preschoolers at all. There was nothing inappropriate in them, they simply talked about some medical problems the beaver was experiencing that I haven’t seen many children that age think about. It was never quite clear to me if this portion was meant to appeal more to the adults reading it or if there was some sort of joke in it that I was missing out on.

Making mistakes is part of being human or, in this case, being a beaver. By far my favorite part of this book was how hard Mr. Oldland worked to help children understand that everyone makes mistakes in life and that with some effort correcting them is very possible. What a wonderful message to share with kids and adults alike.

This is part of a series, but it can be read on its own or out of order.

The Busy Beaver made me smile. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like to learn to be a little less careless.

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