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Children's Fiction Emotions & Feelings

Ben Says Goodbye

by (author) Sarah Ellis

illustrated by Kim La Fave

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Imagination & Play
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1


When Ben’s best friend moves away, he decides he will move, too - under the table, where he lives as "Caveman Ben." Supported by his family, Ben is able to work through his emotions until he feels ready to reemerge and look forward to new friendships.

When Ben’s best friend Peter moves away, Ben decides that he will move, too—into a “cave” under the kitchen table. Caveman Ben doesn’t need any friends except his tame (stuffed) lion. He hunts for his food (thoughtfully left on a plate by Mom and Dad) and communicates in grunts. And in the safety of his cave he can imagine a world where friends control their own destinies and distance is no obstacle.

Award-winning author-illustrator team Sarah Ellis and Kim La Fave have produced yet another book in which they gently guide Ben through an experience that is both familiar and daunting to preschoolers everywhere. Ellis’ text deftly taps into the thoughts and feelings of a young child, while La Fave’s endearing art captures both the depths of Ben’s dismay and the warmth of the family members who support him through his crisis.

Young readers and listeners will celebrate with Ben as, having been given the space to work through his difficult feelings, he emerges from his cave ready to rejoin his family and look forward to new friendships.


About the authors

Sarah Ellis is one of Canada's most-loved children's writers. A former librarian, she is a highly sought-after children's book reviewer, literary jury member and speaker who lectures internationally on Canadian children's books. She is the winner of the Governor General's Award (Pick-Up Sticks), the Mr. Christie's Award (Out of the Blue and The Several Lives of Orphan Jack) and the Sheila A. Egoff Award (The Baby Project, Back of Beyond and Odd Man Out). Further accolades for Odd Man Out include the prestigious TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List, ALA Notable Book for Older Readers, Maine State Library Cream of the Crop List and OLA Best Bets - Top 10 Fiction for Children. Sarah Ellis has also won the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. Sarah is on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sarah Ellis' profile page

Kim La Fave, a Governor General's Award-winning artist, is the illustrator of Amos's Sweater (by Janet Lunn) -- winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for illustration -- Follow That Star (by Kenneth Oppel), I Am Small (by Cherrie Fitch), the bestselling The Bones and Skeleton Book (by Steven Cumbaa) and many other children's books. He lives in Roberts Creek, BC.

Kim La Fave's profile page


  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"

Excerpt: Ben Says Goodbye (by (author) Sarah Ellis; illustrated by Kim La Fave)

Ben decided he would move too. Not across the world. Not across the country. Not across town. He would move under the table. He would become a caveboy.

Editorial Reviews

About Ben Says Goodbye

2016 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

2015 Resource Links "The Year's Best"

"Ellis's simple story catches the rhythms of moving and of grieving, while La Fave's black crayon-like lines and minimal faces register the oversize worries a little guy can carry around."—The New York Times

"Ellis hits all the right notes in this sensitive text. Ben may not be able to talk through his downcast emotional state, but with his supportive family in the background, he works things out on his own. La Fave's strong, expressive line drawings make the characters' emotions easy to read....A satisfying picture book and a welcome sequel to Ben Over Night"—Booklist

"This caveboy doesn't talk or brush his teeth, but he does draw a cathartic story about two 'faraway' friends who meet at the center of the earth. Eventually, the smell of popcorn, along with his family's love, draws him out..."—The Horn Book Magazine

"A gentle and age-appropriate reflection on loss."—School Library Journal

"The upbeat...drawings, thickly outlined with an effect that looks like charcoal, neatly complement the simple, declarative text. Any young child who has experienced the loss of a close friend will find this story resonant."—Kirkus Reviews

"In Ben Says Goodbye,...loss is addressed with sensitivity and honesty. The book offers a wonderful tool for helping young children cope with this type of loss."—Foreword Reviews

"Sarah Ellis's haunting language brings the story to life....A gentle story of change..."—Midwest Book Review

"This touching, realistically told story of a little boy dealing with the hardship of his best friend moving away is a rarity in a kidlit landscape littered with animals and imaginary beings. La Fave's colourful illustrations are warm and accessible, adding another comforting element to a useful and pitch-perfect story that allows kids to see hope in a bleak situation."—Quill & Quire

"Losing a friend to a move is a familiar experience for children and adults alike, and this story will resonate with readers...The text of the story is accessible and simple...The illustrations...strongly support the text...Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"This is an excellent resource to use in helping a young child through the difficult time of families moving from the neighbourhood....Highly recommended for parents, young children, classroom discussions, and story time."—Resource Links Magazine

"The author offers a charming and delightful story in which a preschooler's feelings and thoughts ring true. La Fave's endearing softly-hued illustrations, accentuated by black outlines, accompany this gentle tale."—Canadian Children's Book News

"I recommend this book for parents who want to help their children deal with their friend moving away. It shows the child taking some time to deal with his feelings and then the parents spending time with him....Teachers may want this book in their library to help students realize that new friends can appear at any time."—Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center

"Sarah Ellis' latest Ben story focuses on a common upset for children: the moving away of a friend...Kim La Fave, who gets little Ben's shy or determined face spot on, illustrates Ben Says Goodbye so expressively that Ben's angst and ultimate release and acceptance are remarkably visible....A story that demonstrates that even the very young can work their way through difficult situations on their own and come out smiling."—CanLit for LittleCanadians


Other titles by Sarah Ellis

Other titles by Kim La Fave