Little Ben’s best friend, Peter, is moving away, and Ben is heartbroken.
The only way he can deal with his sadness is by moving himself—not away, however, but to an imaginary cave under the table. Caveboy Ben eats with his fingers, plays with rocks, and protects himself with a club and a stick. He communicates mostly nonverbally, using “Guh” for everything. In the safety of his cave, he expresses his loss in an imaginative series of drawings depicting the two best buddies having fun and doing all kinds of boy stuff. The drawings become increasingly complex, showing the two friends tunneling toward each other through an underground world of subways, ancient cities, and buried treasure. The center of the Earth is, of course, the perfect place for a barbecue, so the boys roast chili dogs and hang out in Ben’s cave drawings. The spell is broken when Ben smells popcorn, returning somewhat grudgingly to his long-suffering family. In a reversal of the opening scene, movers arrive at Peter’s old house, bringing boxes and a scooter that clearly belongs to someone Ben’s age, perhaps a new friend. The upbeat, cartoon-style drawings, thickly outlined with an effect that looks like charcoal, neatly complement the simple, declarative text.
Any young child who has experienced the loss of a close friend will find this story resonant. (Picture book. 4-8)