Friday, November 19, 2010

Ben's Birthdays

Ben's Birthdays
written by Elizabeth Hawkins; illustrated by Paul Cemmick
(Tamarind Books) 2010
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Six year old Ben is pretty bummed that his birthday only comes once a year. With his sister Jessica's birthday right around the corner, Ben would like the focus to be on him. He thinks it's unfair that everyone else in his family has had more birthdays. One day while walking to school, Ben nearly trips over a talking snail. The snail asks kind-hearted Ben  to shelter him. Ben takes care of the snail and at the end of the day finds a nice spot in his family's garden wall for the snail to live. As a reward, the snail tells Ben that he will grant him one wish. With birthdays on his mind, Ben decides to ask that every day become his birthday. Sure enough, the next morning Ben's family brings birthday presents to the breakfast table in honor of Ben's birthday. The first few days are exciting for Ben, but afterwards he discovers that a daily birthday can be a troubling thing.

I read Ben's Birthdays to my kindergarten class and they liked the book. It's King Midas with a six year old twist. There is not a lot of humor in the book, but that didn't seem to deter my students. There were several opportunities for making predictions and for discussion of why Ben's wish may not have been a wise one. It has an English setting so you might have to explain a few customs like tea time as you read the book.

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