Something I want to do a lot more of on this blog is book reviews, both children’s books for Raife and books I read. Although reviewing books I read actually requires me to read them, which requires time to read them. And as all parents of 4 month old babies will know, that’s not something you have…
Children’s books it is then, for now at least!
My first review is Benjy Bunn’s Busy Day, the first in a series of Benjy Bunn stories written by Bev Scott Prior. First written by Bev in the 1970s for her nursery children, the series has been brought to life through illustration by her grandchildren, James Burns and Danielle Melhuish.
The series follows the day-to-day life of Benjy Bunn, a young rabbit who does his best to help out Mummy and Daddy around the home and in the garden. Though done with the best intentions, Benjy usually ends up causing mayhem.
In Busy Day, Benjy tries to bake his Mummy a cake and help Daddy dig up the weeds and water the garden.
The most noticeable element of Bev’s writing is it’s whimsical structure. The quick rhyming comes across more a song than a story which gives the story a unique flexibility that most children’s books don’t have – certainly not one I’ve come across yet. You could easily read this in a typical storylike fashion in quiet-down time, or pick up the pace when it’s a louder, smilier, laughy time of day. It makes the book a great option whatever the time.
You’ll also notice the variation in the text; larger, bolder fonts for rhyming and important words. I love that the letters on the word ‘down’ fall down the page, and vice versa for ‘upstairs’. ‘Rolled’ curves in a semi-circle. It adds that extra element to help the child learn what different things mean when they come to read the book. It’s something I consider to be really important when Raife learns to read. I don’t just want him to read, I like the idea that he’s available to visualise things to help him understand what things mean.
I’m also a big fan of the illustrations. They have a child-like quality to them. I mean this in the nicest way, but you wouldn’t be surprised if an older, and very talented, child drew them. The designs aren’t the perfect, polished drawings you see in most children’s books. Again, I mean that in the nicest way. The illustrations match Benjy and what his life is like and that lends itself really well to the story.
My biggest gripe is the story, more specifically the ending. It all ends rather abruptly. One moment Benjy Bunn is causing mayhem in the garden, the next his Mummy is calling him in ‘right AWAY’ and it stops there. Going through the story, you get the idea that it is about having the best intentions – that it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, as long as you try to do something good. But that message isn’t confirmed by the ending. We don’t get Benjy’s Mummy accepting any apologies or thanking Benjy for trying to do something nice. It would’ve been nice to have that closure to help children better realise the moral of the story.
Benjy Bunn’s Busy Day has a lot of plus points which give the whole series the potential to be a real hit with children and parents. Despite the issues with the ending, I’m excited to read the rest of the series.