Monday, June 24, 2019

Getting to "YES:" What Are You Doing, Benny? by Cary Fagan

"Hey, Benny! What are you doing? Building a fort?

I'm really good at building forts. So can I help, Benny?"

"No," said Benny

Little Brother can't catch a break. Benny, happily painting in his tree fort, turns him down flat.

Little Bro persists, pointing out that he's perfectly prepared to make forts, or potions, or paper airplanes to fly from on high, but Benny ignores all offers. Benny mounts his bike and, declining to watch how fast his brother can pedal, rides off solo.

Not to be left behind, Little Brother offers to join Benny is drawing cats, lying on the grass and looking up at the sky, and sharing one of Benny's fabulous lunch creations.
"You make the best sandwiches in the world!"

Benny declines to make two sandwiches and moves on to strumming his guitar. Little Brother starts to make up lyrics to go with the tune.
"When Benny makes a joke, it's really funny...

And I would give him all my money...."

Benny gets good and grumpy.

Then Little Brother decides to make his own fun. He goes to his room and closes the door. He sets up his marionette stage and pulls out his cast of hand puppets. Time flies as he forgets all about Benny--until, surprisingly, his big brother appears at his door with his basketball.
"Want to watch me shoot hoops?" Benny offers.

"No, thanks!"

It's the old Tom Sawyer trick and it works, as Benny soon joins his little brother in his puppet performance with gusto--and with a special sandwich, to boot, in Cary Fagan's clever tale of turnabout is fair play, What Are You Doing, Benny? (Tundra Books, 2019). This just-published collaboration, pointedly and piquantly illustrated in panels and full-page spreads by artist Kady MacDonald Denton, provides a happy and humorous ending to an oh-so-common sibling situation.

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