Who Sank the Boat?

by Pamela Allen. (Puffin, 1996. ISBN 069811373X. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades PreK-2.



cover art

Five friends: a donkey, a cow, a sheep, a pig, and a mouse, all decide to go for a boat ride. They enter the boat from biggest to smallest with each new entrant tipping the boat and causing it to sit lower and lower in the water. Guess who gets in last. Guess who sinks the boat. The rhyming text is rollicking and as exuberant as the passengers. Its predictability makes this a good early reader.

The "straw that broke the camel's back" theme in this book is easily identified in others. The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood is very close to this one although, in that case, it's a flea that does them in.



  • Give children some toy boats or some wooden triangular wedges and some stones or weights and let them figure out if the mouse would have sunk the boat if he had gotten on in any other position than last.

  • Change the story with a new sequence of animals? Is it as funny?

  • Estimate the weight of each of the characters. Then calculate the necessary size of the boat.

Related Books

  • cover art Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin. (2010, Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316024525. Order Info.) Easy Reader. 48 pages. Gr PreK-3.
    Another highly recommended easy reader. Ling and Ting are Chinese American twins, but they are not exactly the same. For one thing there is the jagged cut in Ling's haircut due to a sneeze while her bangs were being trimmed. Then, of course, there are the differences in their personalities and behavior. This beautifully done Easy Reader explores the similarities and differences while affirming their affection for each other. Small vignettes break the book up into accessible chunks each with a dose of gentle humor at the end. Grace Lin won a 2011 Giesel Honor Book award for this strong entry in the beginning reader genre.

  • The Mitten by Jan Brett. Book Review. Another cumulative tale picture book.

  • Cover ArtThe Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood. Featured Book with activities, related books and links. Cumulative tale picture book.

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