Small Press Stories: Benny’s Brigade

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.**

Find it at: Your library | Amazon | Indiebound

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!

Interview of the author Arthur Bradford and illustrator Lisa Hanawalt by Arthur Bradford’s daughters, Elsie and Theo.

Other children’s titles by McSweeny’s McMullens.

Source of book reviewed: My local library!


5 Responses to “Small Press Stories: Benny’s Brigade”

  1. Belinda says:


    I found your blog recently while looking for spring storytime ideas, and I’ve been back every day since then. I’m a librarian by training, but I’ve been a stay at home mom for awhile now, with volunteer work at the public and elementary school libraries thrown in. Thanks for the great posts!

    • Rebecca says:

      Belinda– You don’t know how much reading your comment has touched my heart. Thank you so much. Sometimes I wonder if anyone other than my mom and husband reads Sturdy for Common Things :) Thank you for your comment and thank you for your support.

  2. Danielle says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this review. You have the same reactions I do to some self & small press published children’s books. They have a quirky odd ball feeling, but you can tell the author had the best of intentions. Here’s to hoping this author/illustrator pair continue to grow and share their passion for great kids books. <3

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you, Danielle (aka kid lit soulmate)! I totally agree. They have this bizarre feel to them that is unusual and fresh, which is partially why I enjoy them so much.

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