Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 6
- Grade: p to 1
Ben is afraid of dogs, even his new neighbor's old scaredy-dog, Max. Can big, brave Ben overcome his fear and make a new kind of friend?
Ben was upset when his friend Peter moved away, but now the new neighbors are moving in across the street and Ben can’t wait to go say hello and make friends. That is, until he notices that this family has a pet dog; and unlike his sister and brother, Ben isn’t so sure around dogs. The big jaws and big teeth make him nervous. But what Ben doesn’t realize is that Max is an “old scaredy-dog” who feels nervous too. Can Ben overcome his fear and come to see eye-to-eye with a new kind of friend?
The award-winning team that produced A+ for Big Ben and Ben Says Goodbye have come together once again in Ben and the Scaredy-Dog, a heart-warming story about a thoughtful yet anxious boy who overcomes his fear of dogs. Sarah Ellis highlights the all-too-common childhood dread of canines as she once again explores the world through the eyes of Ben, a boy who wants to be brave but just can't help anticipating the worst when it comes to a new experience. Kim La Fave perfectly captures his characters' thoughts and intentions through spot-on expressions and body language, as he contrasts Ben's drawings of the creature he sees in his mind's eye with the reality of the big and cuddly dog next door, who just happens to have his own fear issues.
The result is a gently funny book that explores the courageous heart that can be found within an anxious child.
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.
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.
- Short-listed, SYRCA Shining Willow Award
- Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices selection
- Commended, Winnipeg Free Press "Top of the pile" selection
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens selection
- Commended, Daniel Boone Regional Library "Staff Picks: Top Children's Books" selection
- Commended, ThisIsLiteracy.ca "Books to Help Children Cope with Fears and Feelings" selection
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
Excerpt: Ben and the Scaredy-Dog (by (author) Sarah Ellis; illustrated by Kim La Fave)
The new kid, named Erv, came to Ben’s house the next day with her mom and her dog. The dog’s name was Max. They all sat in Ben’s backyard.
Ben liked Erv right away. Erv was short for Minerva, like Ben was short for Benjamin. She could whistle, snap her fingers, blow a double bubble, and do a perfect cartwheel.
Ben didn’t like Max. Max left dog-slobber on Ben’s hand, and he gave a big, loud bark when he spotted Ben’s cat. But at least Erv kept him on a leash.
About Ben and the Scaredy-Dog
2019 Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices selection
2019 SYRCA Shining Willow finalist
2018 Resource Links "The Year's Best" selection
2018 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens selection
2018 Daniel Boone Regional Library "Staff Picks: Top Children's Books" selection
2018 Winnipeg Free Press "Top of the pile" selection
2018 ThisIsLiteracy.ca "Books to Help Children Cope with Fears and Feelings" selection
"This picture book dovetails nicely with the anxiety theme in Ben Overnight (2005) as well as events in Ben Says Goodbye (2016)...The precisely worded text uses dialogue well while revealing Ben's thoughts through the concise narration. The artwork expresses Ben's emotions with finesse and captures the story's gentle humor. A fine read-aloud choice, this Canadian picture book will have broad appeal for young children."—Booklist
"Emphasized in thick, crayonlike outlines, the soft, cartoon illustrations add comfort and charm to this encouraging, gentle narrative about a common childhood fear. VERDICT This compassionate story may ease some anxiety in young children who are nervous or fearful around dogs. A warmhearted addition to Ellis and LaFave's books about Ben."—School Library Journal
"Ben's fear of dogs is sensitively portrayed in a text that skillfully interweaves exposition, questions, and dialogue, with Ben's internal musings set in italics. Amusing illustrations in watercolor and ink make effective use of heavy outlines and copious white space for a clean, contemporary look. Another successful outing in a winning series, with lots of room for more adventures for Ben and his new friends Erv and Max."—Kirkus Reviews
"[La Fave's] images in Ben and the Scaredy-Dog are beautiful. The feelings of fear and uneasiness are clearly depicted on Ben's face. The illustrations, by also showing body language, add another element to the story....A fear of dogs is common, but learning to cope with this fear is very important. Ben's bravery is to be commended, and he provides a great example of overcoming a fear....Ben and the Scaredy-Dog will contribute greatly to story times in the library, classroom or at home. Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine
"Ben and the Scaredy-Dog offers a surprising perspective on overcoming one's fears....Readers of all ages will enjoy this relatable and fresh story constructed in short, effective prose....La Fave's colourful yet airy illustrations depict diverse characters and allow for the readers' own experiences and imagination to fill in the setting. A fun read!"—Resource Links
"A wonderfully entertaining picture book with an important underlying message for children ages 3 to 6, Ben and the Scaredy-Dog is an especially recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections."—Midwest Book Review
"Kids books are fun and educational, but they also let kids safely explore experiences that might make them anxious. The books reviewed here today do just that....Our last selection explores the fear of dogs....The illustrations enhance the story, especially the scary dogs that Ben draws when he thinks about being afraid."—Kenosha News, "Off the Shelf"
"[A] cute story that reminds us that no matter your size, we all have things we might be afraid of, but we should give things a chance."—Safiya, Age 9, Kids’ Book Buzz
"Sarah Ellis demonstrates that children have enormous potential to learn coping strategies for all manner of fears and anxieties. Ben's fear of dogs is valid, especially for very little children and very big dogs, but by comparing how Ben's siblings see dogs...with how the little boy sees them...Sarah Ellis legitimizes all perspectives....I love Kim La Fave's illustrations of Ben and company. His emphasis on perspective–looking up from a child's point of view and at their eye-level–encourages empathy for Ben's distress and concerns."—CanLit for LittleCanadians
"I loved the drawings...They really made the story come to life. And the story is a nice one, especially if you have a youngster who has some fears of dogs."—Canadian Bookworm
"I love the illustrations in Ben and The Scaredy-Dog. The story was also great and I loved the ending."—Book Time