Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle

Hamlet and the Magnificent SandcastleTitle: Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle
Author: Brian Lies
Publisher: Moon Mountain Publishing
Pub Date: 2001
ISBN: 0967792924
Concepts: sandcastles and friendship
Audience: Ages 5-8
Reviewer: Patricia Bessette
Review Date: July 21, 2011

Hamlet, a pig with a vision, determines to build the biggest sandcastle in the world. His porcupine friend Quince is his reluctant partner who worries that things will go wrong. And sure enough, when the tide comes in it brings trouble. (

Are you adventurous or a worrywart? Either way, you’ll identify with a character in Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle by Brian Lies (pronounced Lees). Two friends, Hamlet, the adventurous pig, and Quince, a worrywart porcupine, take a train to the beach in this exciting story. Hamlet dreams of building a magnificent sandcastle. Lies’s detail in the illustration of a sandcastle formed in the clouds was just perfect for this scene.

Meanwhile, Quince is determined to remain on the lookout for the dangers of the beach such as driftwood, crabs, jellyfish, sharks and even quicksand. He sets his clock so they don’t miss their train home.

Will Hamlet make a magnificent sandcastle? Will Quince save them from danger lurking at the beach? Will they miss the train home? You’ll just have to read Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle to find out.

I agree with the publisher that Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle has an interest level of ages 5-8. From a teacher’s perspective, I think high second graders/average third graders could independently handle this book. With an ATOS book level of 3.2 (third grade, second month) and 1508 words, it is too wordy for a read aloud. The book size is a bit small for whole class. It could be used in a guided reading group.

As for a one on one read aloud, I think a four year old could sit on a lap and be engaged in this story. The details in the illustrations lend themselves to lots of discussion including prediction and cause/effect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Brian Lies drew me into the story with his words and pictures from the beginning of the tale right to the very end. The crisp illustrations enhanced the words perfectly. Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle would make a great beach read while on a break from building your very own magnificent sandcastle!

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