Green Bean Books

Benjy’s Blanket

Written by Miguel Gouveia
Illustrated by Raquel Catalina

Price: £11.99 / $13.99
Pages: 48
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781784386320

Highlights

  • A charmingly adapted story from the Jewish oral tradition

  • Explores the ever-changing landscape of childhood, the challenges and joys of growing up and the importance of intergenerational family relationships

  • A celebration of ingenuity, imagination and resourcefulness

  • Beautifully illustrated throughout

Description

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 he 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 Benjy 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 story from the Jewish oral tradition, 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.

Author Details

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.

Illustrator Details

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

Reviews

‘When an author and illus­trator take on the chal­lenge of rein­ter­pret­ing a clas­sic, they face an inevitable chal­lenge. In Benjy’s Blan­ket, Miguel Gou­veia and Raquel Catali­na offer a new approach to the clas­sic Yid­dish folk­tale and song about a hum­ble gar­ment that even­tu­al­ly dis­in­te­grates, but sur­vives in the form of a metaphor about the permanence of sto­ry­telling. Although read­ers will be remind­ed of both Simms Taback’s Joseph Had a Lit­tle Over­coat and My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth and Bar­bara McClin­tock, Benjy’s Blanket engages with the idea of tran­sient objects and last­ing lan­guage in a unique way. Where the ear­li­er clas­sics used rhyth­mic lines to involve read­ers, Gou­veia con­structs a qui­et and mat­ter-of-fact nar­ra­tive of a boy and his grand­fa­ther, illus­trat­ed by Catalina’s emo­tion­al­ly evocative pic­tures. The result is an unfor­get­table pic­ture book about inter­gen­er­a­tional bonds. While the orig­i­nal folk song play­ful­ly sug­gests that one can cre­ate some­thing from noth­ing, Benjy’s Blan­ket replaces that notion with clear evi­dence of what is left. The grandfather’s lega­cy of ded­i­ca­tion and love are the good enough mate­r­i­al” that the boy will trans­form into last­ing words.’  – Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council

‘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.’  – GoodReads.com