PW called this tale of a boy who resembles the famously homely 16th president "great entertainment, and, at its heart, a touching love letter to all the kids who wish they didn't stand out quite so much." Ages 3-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Reiss, a writer for TV's The Simpsons brings the same wacky, irreverent tone to this very humorous and slightly strange picture book. Young Benjy looks very much like the beloved president, down to the beard and mole. He is very tired of receiving Lincoln Logs and stovepipe hats for his birthday and being forced to be Lincoln in every school play, not to mention the teasing he gets at school. Benjy has vowed to spend the summer in his room until his parents send him off to Camp What-Cha-Ma-Call-It, the camp for kids who look like things. There he discovers kids who share the same kind of affliction, including a kid who looks like a horse's butt. While at camp Benjy learns to appreciate who he is, and develop a sense of pride and self-esteem. The book has a wonderful, if not too subtle message, though some of the jokes may go over younger kids' heads. In the end Benjy decides to be proud of his resemblance to Lincoln and leaves us pondering how best to help his younger brother Dickie (who bears a strong resemblance to another, more infamous president). Catrow's illustrations are as always, colorful, fun filled and hilarious. A good choice if you have slightly older children who still like to read picture books, or a little extra room in the budget for fun, but not a must have for the library. 2003, Price Stern Sloan, Ages 6 to 10.
Gr 3-6-This picture book about an eight-year-old who is unhappy because he looks like Abraham Lincoln is unlikely to find an appreciative readership. When Benjy is sent to "Camp What-cha-ma-call-it: The Camp for Kids who look like Things," he learns to appreciate his appearance after he meets children with even bigger problems. One camper looks like the Mona Lisa, one resembles a toaster, and another child looks like "the back of a horse." At the end of the summer, Benjy returns to school with enough confidence to run for class president. Reiss's sly humor is reflected in Catrow's cartoon drawings. While the brief text and silly art indicate a primary-grade audience, the plot is better suited to older children, but they're likely to be turned off by the format.-Doris Losey, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, Tampa, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Benjy looks like Abraham Lincoln as only Catrow can evoke. From the day he is born, Benjy looks like Honest Abe, complete with protruding ears, wart, and beard. Every year, his birthday gift is the same-a stovepipe hat. School teasing is the worst part: "Hey, Stinkin' Lincoln! Split any rails lately?" His parents send him to Camp What-Cha-Ma-Call-It where all the kids look like things: the Mona Lisa, a frog, a toaster, the backside of a horse. The camp experience brings Benjy friends and an appreciation for his face and the way he looks. What keeps the story from being grotesque are Catrow's typical exaggerated caricatures that expand the brief text with humor and puns (a band-aid on Millard Fillmore Dam). The clever cover is even designed to look like a five-dollar bill. The message is upfront, but the silliness, a la The Simpsons (for which the author writes), will grab readers. Adults will need to explain the last scene as Benjy helps his baby brother-who looks like Richard Nixon. Ludicrous fun. (Picture book. 4-8)