SAME WAY BEN by Maryann Cocca-Leffler


Age Range: 4 - 8
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Change happens, even to those who prefer otherwise.

“Ben liked things the same way—every day.” His clothes, the greeting from his teacher, Mrs. Garcia, and what he eats for lunch: chicken strips and an apple. But one day, the music teacher announces he’ll be their substitute for the next six weeks since Mrs. Garcia just had her baby. The substitute’s penchant for “changing things up” doesn’t sit well with Ben, and after one too many alterations, he cries out. Mrs. Garcia, coincidentally in the classroom on a surprise lunch visit with her baby, tells him that “changes make life exciting…like an adventure.” Ben accepts a bite of Mrs. Garcia’s snack—bagels with blueberries and cream cheese—and realizes he likes it. He decides to willingly try mixing some things up. Bright, cartoony drawings make the daily routine of a classroom come alive, worthily representing the center of this child’s world. Ben has beige skin and brown hair, his classmates are racially diverse and one child uses a wheelchair, and the two teachers present white. Although it is never specified, Ben’s preference for continuity could be read as stemming from autism, though the text treats Ben the same as the other members of the class. Young readers, including many not on the spectrum, can empathize with the character’s reluctance to embrace change, so the book could be a good discussion starter.

Sensitively pragmatic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8075-7222-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Whitman
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2019


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