The Ballad of Billy McFee

A sea shanty to read or sing

Children - Picture Book
38 Pages
Reviewed on 12/20/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Amy Louise Hill for Readers' Favorite

The Ballad of Billy McFee by Ruby Mosher is a fun picture book for young children. One of the best things about this wonderful book is that it can either be read as a rhyming story or as a song. The story is based on a little fish called Billy who finds a ship stuck in the mud. Billy takes an interest in the ship and begins his effort to un-stick it. Other sea creatures make fun of Billy and don't believe he will succeed in rescuing the ship, but despite the negativity, Billy continues on his mission and even acquires the help of some unexpected sea life. Will Billy finally free the ship from the mud with the help of his new crewmates? And if so, what adventures do you think they will go on? Find out in The Ballad of Billy McFee!

The Ballad of Billy McFee by talented author Ruby Mosher was so much fun to read. As soon as I turned to the first page I naturally started singing it! It's so catchy and has been flawlessly written. I love that the book's purpose isn't just to entertain; it also has important lessons hidden within it. I think I picked up on most of them but it was only when I re-read the book and paid more attention to the side stories going on that I noticed there was more to be discovered. I feel that children are going to love this aspect of the book because it will be like going on a little adventure to find what the author has hidden for them. The illustrations are adorable and the humor between certain characters made me giggle. I can't recommend The Ballad of Billy McFee enough; it's going to be a big success amongst children and parents too! Keep up the good work, Ruby Mosher!

Joe Wisinski

The Ballad of Billy McFee: A Sea Shanty to Read or Sing by Ruby Mosher is a children’s picture book with a unique twist. The story is about a fish who wants to free a ship that’s stuck at the bottom of the sea. He gets some help from various friends, but others, a pair of naysaying crabs, tell him his work is hopeless. The book’s uniqueness lies in the fact that the words can either be conventionally read or sung (or both.) The book contains rhyming, puns, and Easter eggs (an unexpected feature included as a bonus). It has full-page illustrations and is intended for young children, either those who can’t read yet or who are just learning to read. The author says the book is about celebrating differences and diversity.

The Ballad of Billy McFee: A Sea Shanty to Read or Sing is creative, charming, and imaginative. My children would have enjoyed this book when they were young. Author Ruby Mosher clearly knows what children like and has filled her book with those items. Kids will enjoy the bright, full-page illustrations as well as the rhyming. They’ll also learn about committing to and completing a task, along with ignoring naysayers. But it’s not only children who will enjoy this book. Parents will like it, too, and they will appreciate being able to teach their children through the puns and the Easter eggs. The book will also teach children creativity and the enjoyment of having choices. Each time they read the book (and no doubt children will read it many times) they can decide whether to read or sing the words. I recommend this book to both children and their parents.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Billy has met his match – he’s found a ship embedded in the sand. But Billy is determined to free it from the sand and sail it. It’s the ship of his dreams. Only Billy can’t move the ship on his own. When other sea creatures swim past, he calls out for their help, and soon he has a crew of diverse sea friends, including a shark, a whale, and a very smart crab. Will Billy and his new friends free the ship? Perhaps if we all sing along with his ballad, his ship will be freed.

Ruby Mosher’s picture book story, The Ballad of Billy McFee: A sea shanty to read or sing, is a fun story, part song (ballad), part story. With colorful illustrations and balloon comments by the various sea creature characters, this story is full of collaboration and interesting details about the sea creature characters, as well as the sea itself. The story is inspirational and educational and the young reader can read the story, or sing along with the lyrics. There’s nothing like a group singing together to get a good job done and it doesn’t hurt to repeat this stanza to help encourage more singing voices: “Come along and sing this song,/ We sing as we work the whole day long.” The story includes puns and funny lines, interactive activities like searching for things like Easter eggs, and subplots within the plot. It’s all very clever and the plot allows each individual reader to follow their own journey as they read (or sing) the ballad.