“During the preschool years, children often forge their first friendships and these relationships can be very intense. Here, Sarah Ellis explores how a young boy handles his sadness when his best friend moves away.
Ben is distraught because his best friend is leaving the neighbourhood. He opts to move, too, and seeks refuge in a cave (the space under the kitchen table) where his sole companion is a tamed (stuffed) lion. Adopting the persona of a cave boy, Ben resorts to grunting the sole sound of “guh” when his family speak to him.
While camped out in his makeshift dwelling, Ben finds solace in his two imagined stories about friendship. Using a pointed stick (pencil), he sketches his tales as a series of drawings on the walls of his cave. One tale tells of two boys who are best friends and of their fun and heroic antics. The other tale tells of two friends, living on different sides of the world, who dig their way to reunite in the centre of the Earth for a short visit.
When Ben smells butter in the air, he emerges from his cave and rejoins his family to share some popcorn. When he hears a moving truck’s beeping from across the street, he heads to the window to investigate the sound. From his post on the couch, Ben spies a neon-blue Scorcher Scooter—just the perfect size for a new pal.
The author offers a charming and delightful story in which a preschooler’s feelings and thoughts ring true. La Fave’s endearing softly-hued illustrations, accentuated by black outlines, accompany this gentle tale. Ben’s cave drawings, rendered in black on an ochre background, populate the book’s endpapers. This is a clever touch that offers readers an additional visual level on which to extend and enjoy the story.
Readers who wish to read more about Ben and his adventures will also enjoy A+ for Big Ben (a recent board-book version of Ellis and La Fave’s 2001 title, Big Ben).”