Pete Carter (text), James Henderson (illus.), Our Dog Benji, Exisle Publishing, 23 Jan 2017, 32pp., $19.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925335330
The first thing that attracted me to this book was its size. Being an early childhood educator I have noticed that it doesn’t have to be a big book to capture a child’s attention, sometimes it’s the smaller books which intrigue them most. Whether it’s read to them or they hold the book in their own hands, I believe a small book possess a certain aspect of mystery and curiosity.
Benji’s story is relatable and familiar; a child growing up with his best mate; his dog. Benji eats everything but the child in the story is very fussy – something very common in early childhood, and beyond. It’s Benji’s willingness to try everything from yucky tomatoes to grass, slimy avocado to bugs, which encourages his owner to be a little adventurous and try new things – except for celery; even Benji won’t eat that.
Pete Carter wrote this book using one of his own dogs as inspiration. And his nephew James Henderson created the warm and inviting illustrations which are, often appropriately, from Benji’s perspective.
A simple yet effective story for young children which explores friendship, adventure and fussy eating; all of which are relevant and significant in the lives of children.
Reviewed by Raquel Mayman