Review Copy Courtesy of Elizabeth Gerlach
Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach by Elizabeth Gerlach is based on her son, Ben, who was a beautiful young boy living with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and who passed away in May 2016 due to respiratory complications.
A portion of book sales will benefit Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation. Ben’s family started this foundation in order to give gifts of adapted/accessible toys and other small devices to kids with fine and gross motor challenges. You can learn more about Ben’s Toy Closet and Ben’s Team at www.BenSmiles.org (One look at the website and you’ll immediately understand why they named the organization Ben Smiles.)
In this children’s picture book, we get to meet Ben and he tells us all about his life. He is a lucky triplet that has a brother, a sister, a mom, and a dad. He also has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is unable to walk or talk, which is okay by him, because it does not stop him from using his imagination.
On this particular day, Ben tells us he is dreaming about the beach – one of his favorite places. He thinks about the crabs, the sand, the waves, and building a sandcastle. He dreams of his father’s kite flying high in the sky and then he imagines himself flying in the sky with the kite. He goes with his siblings, imagining that they’re looking for shells. Then it time to go home and time for bed. He then drifts off to sleep and wonders what the next day’s adventures will bring.
It’s a very sweet, uplifting, and joyful book. The author wrote this book, “with great hope that it shows that everyone deserves to have an adventure. And despite physical or medical differences, all kids can play and dream!”
And that’s exactly what this book does. It’s a playful story that lets us spend some time with Ben and see what his world is like: what he thinks about, what makes him happy, and who he loves. You get to experience his joys and cherish his dreams with him. The story briefly introduces his wheelchair and that he has cerebral palsy, which is a great introduction and gives children who have not experienced a wheelchair or know what CP is an opportunity to ask questions and for adults to talk to them about it. It also gives children who use a wheelchair and/or children who have CP an opportunity to see a happy child like them reflected in the story.
The illustrations are beautiful – they have an elegant playfulness to them and radiate the ebullience of a day at the beach. Each page is full of Ben or his family smiling – you can’t read this book without you and your children smiling, too. I enjoyed reading this book with my children. They asked lots of questions about what is CP, how does CP happen, and it gave me an opportunity to talk to them about how sometimes brains don’t form in the same way for everyone. They especially asked a lot of questions and were very curious about wheelchairs.
Cerebral Palsy is, according to the CDC, “the most common motor disability in childhood,” and, “1 in 323 children has been identified with CP.” Ben’s Adventure is only the third book about a person living with CP I have ever come across. (The other two being The Princess Panda Tea Party: A Cerebral Palsy Fairy Tale by Jewel Katz – who was a woman living with Cerebral Palsy and My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy by Shaila Abdullah.) There is a huge need for more children’s picture books about CP, by people living with and affected by CP, and featuring children with CP. I hope to see more books like this – especially books done with such incredible care and love imbued into them.
I hope you get a chance to check out this joyful and smiling picture book – and the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation.
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”