Shining Willow NomineeWho says little brothers can't do anything?Poor Ben. He's the little one - the youngest and smallest. His sister Robin is a big kid in grade five; his brother Joe is a big kid in
Shining Willow Nominee
Who says little brothers can't do anything?
Poor Ben. He's the little one - the youngest and smallest. His sister Robin is a big kid in grade five; his brother Joe is a big kid in grade two. Ben's just a little kid in preschool. He can't swim, he can't use chopsticks, he can't even see out the car window. And worst of all, today is report card day. More than anything, Ben wants to bring home a report like Robin's and Joe's. But there are no report cards in preschool.
Guess what? Ben is about to discover that sometimes there are report cards - at home, written by older siblings! He's about to get his very own report, grading him on all the activities that little brothers do best.
Beloved children's author Sarah Ellis has followed up her acclaimed picture book debut, Next Stop! (2000) with this irresistible tale of siblings who, every once in a while, remember what it was like to be the little one. Kim La Fave's always-empathetic characters inhabit a child's world with just the right touch of humor and joy. A perfect book for preschoolers, younger siblings and beginner readers.
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"The trouble with Ben is that he isn't big. He's the youngest child in the family and, unlike his siblings Robin and Joe, he doesn't get a report card -- he doesn't even have subjects in the nursery school he goes to. At the swimming pool, "Robin does cannonballs. Joe does the dog paddle. Ben can't swim." From the back seat of the car, Robin sees a dumptruck and Joe sees a man walking four dogs, but Ben is too small to see anything. So it goes until Robin and Joe, in an imaginative ploy, help their baby brother feel "big" and "totally cool."
-- The Globe and Mail
"In Big Ben, as she did in her first picture book, Next Stop! Ellis has taken a child's point of view to create a perfect small story based on a common experience (in this case, that of being the "baby" of the family.) The text of Ellis' second picture book, in its theme as well as in its large print format and short sentences, is particularly appropriate for pre-schoolers, younger siblings and beginning readers. Kim LaFave, that gifted and versatile artist whose illustrations for Amos's Sweater won him three awards in 1989, has filled each page with bold, bright-coloured drawings of the characters and their world in Big Ben. Text and illustrations complement each other perfectly and are certain to elicit sympathetic chuckles from readers of all ages. Elementary school librarians will want to add this appealing book to their collection of easy-to-read picture books. Highly recommended."
-- CM Magazine
"This delightful book speaks to the needs and desires of the youngest child in every family. Importantly, the solution to Ben's problem comes not from the grown-ups but from the older siblings who are the source of Ben's feelings of inferiority. These smart children - minor miracles of sensitivity and resourcefulness - are Ben's role models and therefore dominate the story.
LaFave's bright illustrations, full of movement and comforting curves, reinforce Ellis's rhythmic text perfectly. We see the fridge plastered with report cards from Ben's wistful point of view. In the first half of the book, the two older children are pictured together on one side of the page, while Ben is alone on the other. Only when they give Ben his report card are all three drawn together, after which Ben is pictured happily attending to his "subjects" alone. At the end a parent appears just long enough to bestow the final affectionate compliment "You are a big goof.""
-- Quill and Quire, starred review
"Vancouver's Sarah Ellis riffs on Pat Hutchins's Titch: youngest child Ben lives in the shadow of his two older siblings, until - brought to life by Kim LaFave's vibrant illustrations - Ben's tentative self-confidence blossoms, as his brother and sister make it all work out."
-- Georgia Straight
View Biographical note
Award-winning author Sarah Ellis grew up in a family that loved to share stories and read books. Passions that lead her to become a children's librarian and eventually to start writing books herself. Ellis's awards include the Governor General's Award, the Mr. Christie's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award. She lives in Vancouver, B.C.
Award-winning illustrator Kim LaFave has illustrated many books for children including Big Ben, We'll All Go Sailing, We'll All Go Flying and the early readers Emma's Emu, Andrew's Magnificent Mountain of Mittens and Andrew - Catch That Cat!. Kim lives with his family in Roberts Creek, British Columbia.