Ben's Dream



Kids may need help with geographical references.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
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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.

Families can talk 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.

Book details

Author:Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator:Chris Van Allsburg
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:April 26, 1982
Number of pages:31
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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