Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Brave Ben

Brave Ben

Mathilde Stein
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Boyds Mills Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-1932425642

Ben is afraid of just about everything and he is thoroughly fed up with being a coward. The time has come to do something about his situation so Ben looks up “Help for Cowards” in the Yellow Pages and he calls up the listing that he finds there. The listing is “Magic Tree” and Ben is convinced that a touch of magic is just what he needs.

So the next day he sets off for the wild dark forest for his appointment with the magic tree. He hasn’t gone far before he comes nose to snout with a large green dragon. At first Ben feels so afraid that he cannot say a word but then he remembers what the magic tree told him. The tree told him not to be frightened by what he saw in the forest. So Ben talks to the dragon very politely and to his surprise the encounter goes very well. Ben later meets an enormous scary spider, a hideous witch, and all kinds of other scary things, and yet in each case he keeps his cool, remembering what the magic tree said to him on the phone.

At last Ben comes up to the magic tree and he discovers something quite amazing about himself which truly changes his life forever.

Very few of us can actually say that we have never been afraid of something at some point in our lives. Trying to face what we are afraid of is always the hardest part but, as Ben finds out, if you have a little confidence on your side, even the biggest fears of all can seem less frightening. Beautiful multimedia artwork and a simple message make this picture book a real treasure. Grownups who have a child in their life who is struggling with his or her fears may find this book very helpful as it puts ones fears into perspective. A child will see that a dragon may in fact be a friend and a witch may not want to eat you. She may in fact want to give you a gift instead. And as for that monster under the bed? Why all it wants it a cookie or a cupcake to nibble.