“Stay, Benson! might be the perfect picture book.”
Stay, Benson, written and illustrated by Thereza Rowe, is short, charming, and has interactive cut-outs scattered throughout the book. Benson is Flick’s dog. “Every day Flick says, /Be good, Benson. You stay and/ watch the house./ No chasing!”
Flick goes off to school, and Benson does not stay. “He sneaks out the back door/ . . . and into the garden./” The cat admonishes the dog. But Benson heard play, not stay. Benson digs under the fence so that he can chase a squirrel. The squirrel admonishes the dog. “No, she told you to stay and watch the house!”
Benson chases a beach ball and gets wet, then runs into a picnic where he steals a hot dog wiener. “Go home, Benson.” Benson hurries home and gets there right before Flick gets home from school.
“Have you been a good dog?/ Did you stay, Benson?”
Benson hasn’t been a good dog. He digs his way out from under the fence. The art is primitive in primary colors. Red, yellow, and blue predominate the pages, outlined in black or white. Green also factors in on several pages. The art has cut-outs: the door, window, the beach ball, and part of the dog himself on a double-page spread. There’s even a bird cut-out on the red and white cover. Black birds fly across the blue endpapers. The layout is charming and interactive.
This short book will become a favorite for both reader and child. There are only 173 words, and many of them are repetitive. “Stay, Benson!” “What did Flick tell you, Benson?”
This would make a great board book in heavier paper stock to prolong its life. The cut-outs won’t hold up under multiple readings, especially the door cut-out. Otherwise, Stay, Benson! might be the perfect picture book.