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Benjy's Blanket (Hardback)

Children's Books

By Miguel Gouveia, Illustrations by Raquel Catalina
Imprint: Green Bean Books
Pages: 48
Illustrations: Illustrated throughout
ISBN: 9781784386320
Published: 2nd February 2021

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When Benjy is born, his grandfather, a tailor, gives him a beautiful handmade blanket to keep him warm in his cot. As Benjy grows, he takes his blanket with him everywhere. He loves it so much that even when it becomes ragged and stained, he will do anything to stop his mother from throwing it out.

He enlists his resourceful grandfather who cuts, measures and sews and turns the blanket into a coat. Benjy wears the coat every day, morning to night, until it grows too tight and his mother threatens again to throw it away. His grandfather turns it into a waistcoat and when that no longer fits, it becomes a handkerchief, and when the handkerchief is torn beyond repair, it is finally turned into a button. But then Joseph loses the button and his grandfather must come up with an even more imaginative solution – one that will ensure the blanket will last forever.

Based on a traditional Jewish story, this is a beautiful tale of the love between a boy and his grandfather, between a boy and his blanket, the inevitable passing of time and the glorious power of imagination.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A traditional story, beautifully told and beautifully illustrated.

The bond between Benjy and his grandfather is one that many readers, both young and old, would recognise and share.. And having a physical reminder of a loved family member is something to be cherished, as Benjy does with his ever dwindling blanket. This is a book for sharing and enjoying: definitely one for the classroom.

NetGalley, Tracy Parvin

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Benjy's Blanket reminded me why I love children's books so much. Like Benjy, I had a beautiful relationship with my grandfather, and I still cherish his things after all the years. I can see grandchildren and grandparents reading this story together and cherishing it. I also enjoyed the illustrations and colours. Great book.

NetGalley, Elif Akdemir

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This heartwarming story is about the special bond between a little boy named Benjy and his beloved grandfather. His grandfather, who is a tailor by trade, makes his grandson a special blanket when he is born and the little guy falls in love with the handmade treasure. The two are inseparable.

The blanket becomes torn, worn and dirty but that makes Benjy love it and cling to it even more. As he grows bigger the grandson returns to his grandfather over and over again to save his precious gift. Using remnants, creativity and wisdom Grandfather transforms the blanket into a jacket, a vest, a scarf and then a button. Unfortunately not long afterwards when Benjy was getting ready for school he realizes that the button is nowhere to be found. Oh my! What can dear Grandfather do now with....NOTHING?

Wise Grandfather has the perfect solution. Can you guess what he does? I adore the love that flows through the story and I love the surprise ending that I am sure kids ( and adults ) will appreciate. The illustrations are spot on and make the story come alive. They are full of emotion and the colour pallet accentuates the message told by the author. I highly recommend this book.

NetGalley, Marilyn Panton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an adorably sweet story. Kids never want to let go of blankies and loveys when they grow out of them, so the idea of having them made into a cherished piece of clothing, using less and less of the material, is a beautiful anecdote about the duration of love. Benjy holds on to the blanket his grandfather made him for as long as he possibly can, which means he will hold on to the memory of his grandfather for even longer.

NetGalley, R. Aimee Chipman

A sweet story of a gift from grandfather to grandson and all the different iterations it takes on. The illustrations are beautiful and the story so sweet.

NetGalley, Emilee Meeks

Benjy's Blanket - written by Miguel Gouveia and illustrated by Raquel Catalina - is an assured and artfully-put-together retelling of a classic Jewish folk tale. Its touching message - that people matter more than things - has never been more timely.

A boy is gifted a beautiful blanket by his grandfather when he is born, and he treasures it. Through overuse it becomes tattered, and he takes it to his grandfather who refashions into a jacket. And through overuse, it becomes tattered, and his grandfather refashions it into a vest. And so on.

It did not surprise me to learn that Gouveia has previously been a teacher - his storytelling has the confidence of someone who knows how he would like the story to be told and understood. The language is not flowery; it is precise and clear enough for children to soak up the message. This feels entirely appropriate to his kind of folk story.

Raquel Catalina's illustrations add a layer of emotion to the tale. This emotional depth is not necessarily present in the text. I think this is right. The muted olives, browns and beiges accentuate the bright turquoise of the blanket, This colour palette gives a tone of sadness - by my interpretation - perhaps linking to the unspoken 'loss' of the grandfather. In other tellings of this tale, the grandfather passes away, and the story of the blanket is a way the child remembers him.

I am drawn again and again to the close up image of the grandfather's face - we know there is warmth in him, from the story of his relationship with Benjy, but I like that his face doesn't beam or glow with joy. His love is expressed through his tailoring, and I like this complexity.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would gladly share it with the children I teach aged 9-13. As well as a picture book worth sharing for its story alone, it offers us the chance to explore the way in which we attach significance and meaning to objects.

NetGalley, Jonny Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A longer version of the tale of the button, where a blanket gets repurposed into progressively smaller items. Lovely mixed media illustrations, the fleshed out story makes a good read aloud, and the message of re-use/recycle is timely and on point.

NetGalley, Cindy Reed

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I believe this may be one of my favorite children’s books of all time. Everything about it, from the story to the artwork, is stunning. There are so few books that feature Jewish children in the US, making the diversity a much welcome aspect of the story. This would be a wonderful book for a grandparent to gift their grandchild or vice-versa. I recommend buying two and sharing it over zoom.

NetGalley, Morris Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thought that this book was really, really lovely and each page was a delight.

The images in the book suit the story perfectly and it is a story that I loved reading with my daughter. It has a lovely flow to it and it is very well written too.

I thought that the characters were lovely and the bond between Benjy and his grandfather was wonderful.

It is 5 stars from me for this one, very highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was lucky to be sent an advance copy of this very beautiful story by Netgalley and the publisher Pen & Sword. I liked the description of the book and the illustrated front cover. The book is based on a Jewish story about the love between a boy and his grandfather.
When Benjy was born, his grandfather makes him a beautiful blanket. He loves it and takes it with him everywhere. Like every child’s favourite blanket (or toy) it becomes worn and dirty. As he grows up, his mum wants to throw it away.
Luckily, his clever grandfather is a tailor. Using his scissors, needle and lots of imagination he turns the blanket into a coat. Over time, the cost becomes too small and Benji goes back to Granda for help so he can save his favourite belonging.
Over the years, the blanket is transformed into different but gradually smaller items that Benjy can love and wear. When Benjy loses the last item (a button) he again goes to his Granda for help. There isn’t a single scrap of the blanket left but the Grandfather still comes up with a new idea for Benji. This time it is something that Benji can keep forever.
This is a wonderful story about family, imagination, making memories and the things that are special to us. I enjoyed the author's of the story and the illustrations make this a beautiful picture book to share with family.

NetGalley, Ayron Dhokia

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is such a sweet book about a boy who loves and appreciates his grandfather so much that he does not want to let go of the gift his grandfather made him as an infant. In the end, there is a great lesson about how physical items can be temporary but memories and love last. It's a charming book that would be a great addition to youth collections.

NetGalley, Megan Rasmussen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was an emotional read for me.
This is love of a grandson towards his grandpa.

He valued the gift made by his grandpa and cherished it for his whole life.

In an age where kids don't value the things given to them by their elders, this story is an eye opener for many.

NetGalley, Pooja Banga

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have nothing but praise for this book, it’s author’s story and the illustrator. It’s a beautiful story with a clever and unexpected ending. Pure enjoyment within its pages and a solid 5/5 stars from me.

NetGalley, Tina Milledge

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nice new telling of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat story! It would be nice story for a child who has a favourite blanket, with a suggestion of how to preserve it through the years. Kids are going to love this story. Illustrations were sweet and worked will with the tale.

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins

This is a really nice and heartwarming story about a boy who really values the blanket he got from his grandfather as a baby, and the way the two of them bond by continuing to create new ways to preserve it. It really brought a smile to my face!

NetGalley, Marte Olsen

A very good young read, that pitches well for those fresh to reading a couple of hundred words in one go yet will appeal to many other age groups. A young baby gets crafted a comfort blanket as a toddler by his tailor of a grandfather, but demands it get rescued from the trash when it's seen better days. And so it becomes a jacket instead, and that in turn needs to turn into something else, and the same applies to the leftovers of that and so on down the line. Watching the lad get older and the tailor get frailer through these pages I have to say the ending was not perhaps the best ever, but was certainly not the one I was expecting. A strong visual style, with a subdued palette of few bright colours, indicates as much the gritty make-and-make-do nature of the characters as it does the fantastical life of the fabric concerned. A strong four stars for this clever modern fable then, with its softly-spoken moral of keeping up the life in our possessions and in our families and friendships. Make matter matter, if you like – and this book will matter to quite a few who pick it up.

NetGalley, John Lloyd

Heartwarming story about a bond between a boy and his grandfather, and how Benjy became attached to a blanket his grandfather made.
My daughter adores her grandad and can imagine them curled up reading this together.
Lovely book that I would recommended to anyone.

NetGalley, Kirstie Jones

About Miguel Gouveia

Miguel Gouveia was born in Santo Tirso, Portugal. He started telling stories as a teacher in 2001 and seven years later he created Bruaá Editora. In 2010, after finishing his Master’s Degree in Books and Children’s Literature as the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, he left teaching to devote himself to publishing, translation and music. Since then he has been storytelling in libraries, bookshops, schools and at festivals, with a repertoire made out of the oral tradition of different cultures.


About Raquel Catalina

Raquel Catalina was born in Madrid in 1973 where she studied Fine Arts. Her career as an illustrator started in 2010 after moving to Valencia where she studied a postgraduate degree in illustration at Spain's ESAT (Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología). Since then, she has worked as a children's illustrator for prestigious publishers. Her work has been exhibited in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Her portfolio can be seen at www.raquelcatalina.com

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