Being Ben ISBN: 9781406333060
Published by Walker Books Ltd, 2013
Ben is a highly imaginative little boy, and because of this, he often finds himself fearful of some rather strange things. In this chapter book for newly-confident readers, Ben finds himself afraid first of a new baby brother or sister. He is convinced that he will hate the baby, and that the baby will be horrible in every way. When she is born, he discovers that she looks much like him, with brown skin and eyes (this is a mixed race family) and isn't horrible at all, although she does make a lot of noise! In the second chapter, Ben becomes afraid of stripes. He thinks he is allergic to them, and he becomes so nervous about seeing them that they make him physically sick. This is cured by his being given a new stripy bicycle for his birthday! The third fear has to do with his 8th birthday party. He really doesn't want to have one, but his parents tell him that there is to be a surprise, and when he reluctantly agrees, he is delighted to find that the party is at the Swimming pool, and he loves swimming. All through these stories, Ben is seeing lots of his best friends, the twins, Ollie and Maxine. Maxine is deaf, and she and her brother use sign language. They are teaching Ben too, and the three of them communicate by both talking and signing as Maxine can also lip read. She is an important character in the stories and is a feisty and fun child. The final story in the book has to do with an escaped snake. Ben loves snakes and isn't the least bit concerned that there might be one in his house. In fact, he is the one who catches the snake and takes it back to its owner, proving that he is braver than most about some things. The book is a good balance between fear and bravery, and the details of Ben's problems are written with verve and great style. The black and white illustrations are very much part of the appeal of the book, and altogether, this is a super story of an unusual child, who is helped to handle fears in his own way.