CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 29 . . . . March 30, 2018
When new neighbours move in across the street, Ben is interested in meeting what could possibly be a new friend. But one thing is stopping him: his fear of dogs. After a visit from the new neighbours who have a dog and an introduction to the neighbours' son Erv, Erv's mother invites Ben over after the unpacking is complete. The only things Ben sees when he looks at this dog are jaws and teeth, and he is afraid. Ben is hopeful that unpacking will take a long time, but that next weekend Erv invites Ben over to play.
Ben's big sister Robin gives him several words of encouragement and gets him to repeat: "Big Brave Ben, Big Brave Ben." When Ben gets to Erv's house, he's surprised to see Max the dog in the playroom sitting on a bath mat. The dog has a fear of the shiny floors in the new house. Erv's grandma is online, and Ben is left alone with Max. Ben realizes that the dog can sense his fear, and he knows not to look Max in the eye. How does Ben cope? Knowing he can't run away, he hums the Happy Birthday tune to himself. Slowly Max walks across the shiny floor, and when Ben turns around, Max is leaning against him. Erv and her mom are overjoyed that Max has overcome his fear of the shiny floor and think that Ben has a special way with dogs.
Kim LaFave is an illustrator with a focus of paint, pencil and digital media. His 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.
Apprehension, fear and anxiety are normal feelings. 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.
Every child has a fear, but how they learn to cope and deal with it is the important thing. Ben and the Scaredy-Dog will contribute greatly to story times in the library, classroom or at home.
Courtney Crocker, the Regional Librarian for Central Division with Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, lives in Gander, NL.