Monday, September 9, 2013

Ben Rides On

Ben Rides On
by Matt Davies
Roaring Brook Press, 2013. Unpaged.  Picture Book

     Ben loves to go to school--now that he has the bicycle of his dreams.  Each morning, like Stephen Leacock's Lord Ronald, he "flung himself  upon his [bike] and rode madly off in all directions."  Sometimes, just for the fun of it, he takes the long way to school.  Sometimes even the long, long way. And occasionally "even the very, very long way." For some reason, Ben is accompanied on each trip by a spindle-shanked, raggedy crow but his bird friend cannot save him when Adrian Underbite, "perhaps the world's largest third-grader" takes a shine to his bicycle and then takes his bike. On his dreary way home, Ben sees his ruined bike hanging from a tree limb, and then someone calling for help: Adrian, hanging from a branch just below the cliff's edge.  Ben likes the idea of Adrian dangling for eternity, but decides to go back and manages to rescue his tormentor who at first doesn't seem to have mended his ways, but . . . . Ben Rides On is a terrific little story about a doing the right thing when you really want to do something else.  Best of all, though, are Davies' pictures, so witty, so charming, so helter-skelter all over the page and back again.  Definitely a keeper.

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