Author/Illustrator: Duncan Beedie
Age Group: 2-6
Synopsis: His job is bringing, lumberjack, Big Jim Hickory face to face with the ecological consequences of deforestation in a humorous and eye-opening sort of way.
The Low Down:
We are always up for a story about saving tree, or the ocean, or animals. While I’m not going to be chaining myself to a tree anytime soon, I think it’s important to start early in teaching young ones the importance of conservation. The Lumberjack’s Beard addresses this issue perfectly without getting too preachy and still makes the story accessible for kids.
Duncan Beedie scores a home run with this story by embracing a quirky sort of silliness that pulls kids back time and again. There doesn’t seem to be a rougher more burly sort of guy than Big Jim Hickory. If you doubt it just look at his name. But this plaid shirt-wearing, axe-swinging, beard-sporting fellow gets into all heaps of trouble when his job leads him the single handedly destroying a forest. The homeless creatures take refuge in his enormous beard. They bring with them all sorts of issues that Jim isn’t equipped to deal with, and generally throw his life into chaos. It’s only through a personal sacrifice that he realizes that he needs to change his ideas.
Beedie does a fabulous job of bringing the characters to life in a fun and sweet way, while playing on all the small things that really appeal to kids and adults alike. Bug personally loved how Jim had a whole storage shelf of maple syrup while I got a kick out of the name of the logging company. With bright and expressive illustrations, Beedie really draws readers into his story (pun intended). The animals are so justified in their indignation but still so charming. Jim himself just seems to embody the strong, stoic sort of man who would become a lumberjack but still manages to embrace himself (limbering up in plaid pajamas isn’t for everyone).
But the best part is how Jim isn’t an unkind sort of guy but just unaware of the consequences that his actions have on the environment around him. We all can fall victim to that sort of ignorance and a gentle reminder to be aware of the impact we have our world can never go amiss. Bug loved reading this and giggled but I when he brushed his teeth one night and left the water running. I gently asked him where the fish would live if he used up all the water. “Not in my beard,” he said as he switched it off quickly.
- Keep an eye out for the displaced animals as Jim goes about his jobs.
- The beard wax illustration makes me chuckle every time but the really cool thing is the end papers.
I need more!
Duncan Beedie also wrote/illustrated The Bear who Stared. While we still love the Lumberjack’s Beard the best, it’s very cute and a fun read. For more about Beedie’s books and other work check out: http://duncanbeedie.co.uk/
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