Small Press Stories: Benny’s Brigade
by Arthur Bradford, illustrations by Lisa Hanawalt
**”Small Press Stories” on Sturdy for Common Things is a new regular series featuring children’s books from small, independent publishers. They aren’t often on everyone’s radar, so this is my way of giving a shout out to the little dudes.**
Published: McSweeney’s McMullens (August 7, 2012)
Recommended Reading Age: 4 & up
In a nutshell: Literally! Benny’s Brigade is about a walrus named Benny who magically emerges from a walnut shell. The two sisters who find him, Elise and Theo, decide to take the polite walrus to school with them and naturally, the miniature walrus is a hit. To entertain the children, Benny sings a song about the sea which in turn upsets him because he misses his life in the ocean. To help reunite Benny with the ocean, the children decide to build Benny a ship and recruit a brigade to assist him on his journey.
Seems kooky but tame enough, no? Just wait until you get to the conclusion.
Myself as a child would have probably crafted my own pretend Benny after reading this book, and would’ve ended up carrying my walrus around like Elsie and Theo had. I would love to hear a child’s perspective after reading this book, because even though it is a bit of an odd-ball story, I found Benny’s Brigade refreshingly unique with each turn of the page. Bravo first time children’s book author Arthur Bradford and illustrator Lisa Hanawalt. I look forward to your bright future in children’s literature.
Don’t take my word for it: 100 Scope Notes Wildest Books of 2012
Extras: Did you know that jacket cover can fold out into a two-sided poster? It can!
Other children’s titles by McSweeny’s McMullens.
Source of book reviewed: My local library!