Benito has built a store deep in the rain forest to serve his neighbors. But one day a rat is discovered in the store and no one wants to shop there any more. His sister Vilma realizes he needs a boa constrictor to chase away the rat, and sets out to find him one. All week neighbors bring him boas of sorts, but none is suitable. Lying in his hammock in despair, Benito is surprised to see a boa climb up the rope to his roof. The next day the rat is gone, and the people come back to his shop. As Vilma happily notes, he did not find a boa; "The boa chose Benito." The rain forest setting, depicted with cut paper and paint, creates attractive scenes with few details. The focus is on Benito and a variety of snakes. The rat appears early, but then again only running away, so we miss some visual fun. But the large boa slithering across the front and back of the jacket along with many more on the end-papers and throughout, all add to the appeal of the simple story. 2005, Star Bright Books, Ages 4 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Benito owns a small shop in a tiny rainforest village. When a customer discovers that a rat has been gnawing at the chunks of brown sugar carefully wrapped in corn shucks, she runs shrieking from the store. Soon, the other shoppers stay away. Worried, Benito tries unsuccessfully to catch the rat. His sister tells him that he needs the services of a boa and, when word gets out, neighbors arrive with potential rodent-chasers. One snake is too small and another is too big. When Benito is about to despair of ever finding the right snake, one shows up on its own and chases the pest away. The story is based on the author's experience in a rainforest preserve in Costa Rica, and subtle cultural detail makes the tale interesting and fresh. The exotic setting is brought to life by Nathan's brightly textured cut-paper illustrations. Her style is reminiscent of Eric Carle's and is both accessible and expressive. Unfortunately, the type looks dull compared to the lively art and the text seems to have been stuck on the page wherever it would fit. In a few places, it is printed on top of the picture and is a little hard to read. Despite these shortcomings, this is an amusing peek into rainforest culture.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.