Bentley’s Fantabulous Idea
by Miki Taylor
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Print Length: 46 pages
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A gorgeously illustrated, animal-friendly kids book for those with furry best friends
Betty has two best friends—Bentley the dog & Mr. Bee the Bumblebee—but on this sunny day, she isn’t feeling much up to playing. She has a project she has to complete, and it’s all she can think about. If she doesn’t take pictures of her friends having fun, she won’t be able to complete it.
Luckily, Bentley is right there to offer the most obvious and fun-filled solution that’s been sitting there waiting for her all along. Bentley poses for a picture first, jumping up and down and singing, “Pick me, pick me! It’s easy peasy! Just pose and grin a little cheesy!”
And after that, they’re off to the races! After snapping Bentley & Mr. Bee’s cheesy photos, they take a little adventure to see all of their favorite animal friends in the area—up to 19 more!—and snap pictures of them having fun. The only caveat here is that Betty & Bentley must keep an eye out for each specific animal’s predators lurking in the background (like birds & sharks & cheetahs) to make sure their friends are safe. Including the predators is a great way to teach little ones about the circle of life and which predators seek out which prey in the natural world.
In addition to being a smiley picture book filled with vibrant colors and gorgeous illustrations, the book also employs a few different seek-and-find games. Readers are encouraged to find a cardinal (which isn’t too easy to find!) and then to share their favorite memory with a grandparent because of the idea that cardinals show up in your life as loved ones watching over you. Some hide-and-seek games in picture books can get a little easy and on the nose, so it’s refreshing that the cardinal and the African violet (the other seek-and-find object) end up being pretty hard to find. I had to flip through the book a second time to see where they appeared instead of the first go-round!
What stands out most in Bentley’s Fantabulous Idea has got to be these illustrations! The book’s illustrator, Eunhye Shin, brings such bouncy, colorful, and friendly characters to life. Each page is filled to the brim with memorable animals and settings. It will make for a fun reading experience for the little ones who are expanding their knowledge of animals. With 21 of them, your child has a lot of opportunities to learn about the different animals, their predators, their appearances, and maybe even their musical prowess. I’m looking at you, drumming meerkat!
This is a fun kids book with a lot to look at and learn. It is fairly simple, with each page differing largely from illustrations and the alliterative names given to the characters, but most pages do read fairly similarly, as Betty & the crew mostly just have the characters say the “grin a little cheesy” line before moving on to the next one. While I longed for a bit more adventure and variety on each page, I still found it a cute way to spend time with my two-year-old.
Bentley’s Fantabulous Idea would be a gorgeous addition to any child’s bookshelf, especially those with animal best friends.
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