Gillian McClure

We're Going to Build a Dam

We're Going to Build a Dam

Two boys go to a beach in search of a stream to dam and a dog follows them.The boys are so busy building their dam they don't notice what the dog is doing and when they do, it's too late to save their dam.

This story has practical appeal - showing how a dam can be built out of natural materials found on a beach while at the same time having a humorous dog sub plot narrated in the pictures.

The illustrations are in watercolour with a strong black ink line. The typeface is Compendio with its broken line matching the ink line of the illustrations.

£6.99 free UK postage


Story and illustrations: Gillian McClure

U.K. Publisher: Plaister Press, 2013

ISBN: 9780956510846



The rhythmic language in this delightful picture book is poetic as two little boys valiantly use all their ingenuity to build a dam to stop the stream reaching the sea. They make a plan and scrabble about searching for boulders and driftwood and stones to make a wall to thwart the water. With determination and a dog to help them, the boys work together to stop the 'cunning' stream, but, will it be enough? The colours of the gentle illustrations are soft  seaside hues of gold and blue and orange and the simple drawings of the boys, their dog and their dam, have a humour and sensitivity about them. This story is wonderfully reminiscent of beach holidays many will remember and is one to enjoy with youngsters many times. Perhaps it will inspire them to build a dam of their own next time they are at the seaside.

Louise Stothard, Carousel, Issue 56, Spring 2014

A hymn to the joy of 'messing about' on the beach - two small boys and their imaginations create a simple but dramatic story.

Jane Ray

Friendship, play, achievement, the power of the sea: the eager, bright-eyed, 'white light' of childhood.  At one level, We're Going to Build a Dam is so simple; but it's also about all these important things.

Kevin Crossley-Holland

Dam-making is one of those childhood activities that seem almost instinctively to appeal to every generation – and in this beautifully illustrated, tenderly told tale, Gillian McClure captures the process perfectly: the tingly anticipation as plans are made; the growing excitement (punctuated by frustration as the relentless water flow seems to find a way around each careful construction); and the glorious triumph when the stream is defeated, albeit temporarily.
Share the story with your charges and then, if you’re lucky enough to have a stream or beach within visiting distance of your setting, take a trip armed with spades and see how much luck they have with dams of their own; otherwise, organise a session of water play outside, during which the children can test how easy, or otherwise, it is to make a liquid do their bidding.

Teach Nursery Book Club




One of the books selected to be included in the six show-case school libraries as part of the Life Changing Libraries Campaign.

Nominated for the 2014 Kate Greenaway Medal

Selected for the 3-6 longlist of the 2015 UKLA Book awards

Copyright© Gillian McClure2010 — 2024. All rights reserved.