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by Cornelia Funke & illustrated by Kerstin Meyer & translated by Chantal Wright

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: May 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-82862-7
Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Funke and Meyer deliver a third collaboration featuring a feisty, imaginative kid. This time, it’s Ben (mostly tolerated and occasionally abetted by his older sister Anna), whose powerful fantasies fuel his raucous play. Whether he’s a wolf, knight, monster or himself (defending the household from human and beastly intruders), Ben is one busy boy. “Yes, Ben really has to fight quite a lot,” the wry narrator intones, “All day long, in fact. His muscles have already grown big from it all.” In Meyer’s accompanying spread, Ben’s in the garden, whomping three substantial grizzlies into submission as sidelined pet guinea pigs cheer. On the facing page, a pale, intent Ben admires his puffed-up physique in the mirror as Anna peeks and giggles. Play’s hard work, and Ben’s imagination and physicality leave him exhausted by bedtime. Nighttime scares him: The house’s heating sounds like “a thousand biting beetles.” In a soothing role reversal, trusty Anna protects Ben now, as he crawls into her bed for some much-needed sleep. Kudos for celebrating the exciting fantasy play of boys. (Picture book. 4-7)