Ben's Dream

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Ben's Dream Book Poster Image
Kids may need help with geographical references.

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

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids may need help with some of the geographical references here. Spectacular line drawings fascinate kids, and they enjoy finding out and filling in the details in the wordless section.

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What's the story?

During a rainstorm, Ben falls asleep while studying geography, and finds himself floating on a flood past the major landmarks of the world. This tour of half-covered monuments, done in intricate black-and-white line drawings, fascinates, but kids need help with the references.


Is it any good?

The surprise ending to this unusual book will have readers scrambling back through the pages to find the clues they missed the first time through. For many children, enjoying this book -- beyond looking at the intricately hatched black-and-white line drawings -- will require the help of an adult who can answer questions and provide context. The pen-and-ink pictures of monuments, half-covered in water and sometimes pictured at unusual angles, may not be familiar to young readers. But they can provide a starting point for interested children to find out more by reading other books.

Chris Van Allsburg rarely uses the same style twice, and children interested in drawing will be fascinated by his work here, in which he produces drawings of great detail, shading, and three-dimensional depth using only straight and slightly curving lines.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the monuments depicted in the book. Why was each built? How? Which ones were particularly challenging to build? How do styles and moods differ among the monuments? Check out other resources for more details on each.

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