Monday, December 6, 2010

Benjamin and Bumper to the rescue by Molly Coxe, photographs by Olivier Toppin

I happen to be a fan of stop-motion animation, especially the fuzzy variety (I said fan not expert) and this book irresistibly reminds me of some of my favorites. Specifically, those lovely Wind in the Willows movies.

This book has solid charm. When Benjamin Middlemouse's mother doesn't come back from her errands, he calls his elephant friend Bumper and they set out to the rescue. They check with the Pantrymice, who have terrifying news - Sir Pouncelot is hunting for mice and moles for his casserole! Benjamin and Bumper track Benjamin's mother through the garden and up the steps where they find her in a cage! With a clever trick and Bumper's help, Benjamin rescues his mother and she comes up with an idea to keep Sir Pouncelot away from all mice and moles in the future.

The text verges on the too too sweet for words on occasion, and some might object to Benjamin's mother's plan - to cook for the cat, who won't eat them as long as they serve him delicious food. But on the whole the plot and writing is extremely satisfying. Children will love the perils and triumphs of Benjamin and his friend and parents will find this a story they're happy to read over and over again.

Of course, the really endearing part of this book is the art. You could spend forever identifying each fascinating little detail in the pictures, from the handmade felted characters, to the tiny furniture and carefully set scenes. The reader sees the world from the mouse's point of view, so while there are tiny dishes and toys, there are also massive steps, large vegetables, and all the other accouterments of a human-sized world, repurposed for the various characters.

Verdict: Recommended for storytime and for more detailed viewing. A wide range of ages will find something to interest them in this adorable tale with its detailed art.

ISBN: 9780981969718; Published June 2010 by Brave Mouse Books; Borrowed from the library.

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