Ben Lukin, the bike-loving boy from Ben Rides On (2013), loses something of special significance: his sketchbook.
Ben loves drawing: “He loved to draw in writing class / and also in math class.” He draws everything, including people—here, his sketchbook opens to two full pages of caricatures of his schoolmates. Davies’ cartoon line hums with energy. Ben’s eyebrows hover animatedly above his toothy grin; every page seems to tilt with the forward motion of the story. After an exhilarating bike ride home “the long way,” flying over hills and dales (his hair flowing free, though a sign for Acme helmets peeks cheekily out from the edge of town), Ben realizes he’s lost his sketchbook. That moment of loss is nicely done—Ben reaches into his backpack and comes back empty-handed; fireworks of dismay hit him. Attentive readers may notice its fall; here, an inset box shows a hand reaching to pick it up. The following double-page spread shows Ben’s search up and down the hills: Where could he have lost it? Readers may worry about Ben when he walks into his classroom and realizes that everyone is examining his drawings—of them. Yet when Mr. Upright picks up the sketchbook, “thoughtfully placed on his desk,” and leads Ben out of the classroom, the outcome turns into a moment of victory for the young artist.
Funny and exuberantly sweet. (Picture book. 4-8)