by Joseph Kuefler
Interest level: K-3
Reading level: 3.6
3 out of 5 stars
Fans of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s book Sam and Dave Dig a Hole will recognize some similarities with Beyond the Pond. Ernest D. is bored with his not-fun house, so he decides one day to explore the nearby pond. He dives into the endless pond, past sharks, and sunken ships, and out the other side into a magical and fun world, filled with color and adventure. At the end of the day, Ernest D. returns to his home, but discovers that it’s not the same boring place it was when he left.
Readers are left to ponder whether Ernest D. went on a magical adventure, or if his day spent in imaginative play changed his view of the world.
Kuefler’s illustrations are Klassen-esque, subtle shapes that represent objects, with a muted color palette, especially when Ernest D.’s world is not fun. Ernest D. is accompanied by his faithful dog, which kids will love. The independent reading level is higher 3rd grade, probably due to the inclusion of words like “raucous.” This would make a fun read-aloud, possibly accompanied by a reading and comparison with Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.