Aggie and Ben: Three Stories

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Aggie and Ben: Three Stories Book Poster Image
Humorous boy-and-his-dog tales for early readers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing to be concerned about in these three short stories for early readers.

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What's the story?

In three related short stories for beginning readers, Ben, after thinking about and rejecting several other types of pets, gets a new dog and names her Aggie. In the second story he learns to play with and relate to her, and in the last they face the scariness of a darkened bedroom together.

Is it any good?

The stories here aren't the most exciting ever written, but they're engrossing enough to keep a child reading, and they have flashes of humor and depth.

Writing books for beginning readers is tricky. The intellectual and interest levels of young readers usually exceed their reading abilities, and crafting a story that's interesting to them -- while sticking to a very strictly confined vocabulary set -- is a challenge few have mastered. 

What sets the book apart from others of this type are the illustrations and the way they work cleverly with the text. The pictures -- pen-and-ink with watercolor -- are humorously stylized and more sophisticated than those in most I-Can-Read books. They bear close and repeat viewings, as faces and bodies express ideas only hinted at by the text (the boredom of the pet shopkeeper, the father's reaction as his son considers a snake, etc.).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about pet ownership. Why do people have pets? What are the responsibilities of the owners? Kids might be interested in writing or dictating stories about their pets. What other books about pets have you read?

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