Benjamin’s Blue Feet
Benjamin’s Blue Feet
Benjamin is a little booby.
A little Blue-footed booby.
A little treasure-hunting blue-footed booby.
The best little treasure-hunting
blue-footed booby on the island!
Benjamin has discovered a wide array of items that simply delight him. His “treasures” are pictured, not labelled, but instead are highlighted in blue text with a question mark: “after “hole-thing-um?”; a string-stretch-it?” These odd names add amusement to the story, and they are a not-so-subtle message that his treasures are really humans’ junk and discards. Yet, being the true, but unaware treasure hunter that he is, Benjamin is giddy with pleasure at what he uncovers at the beach. The discovery of a mirror changes his mood as it allows him a chance to see himself critically for the first time and to compare himself to the other wildlife that surrounds him. This comparison leaves him miserable! Everything he sees that makes him a unique “blue footed booby” he decides needs to change. Using some of the items he has found, Benjamin proceeds to alter his appearance, much to the amusement of his ocean colleagues. Then he unhappily discovers these changes also alter his ability to swim, fish, and fly. He soon comes to appreciate and accept both his skills and his body.
For those young readers who might giggle at the mention of “booby” (and even inquiring minds might want to know), a booby is a large tropical seabird with brown, black, or white plumage and coloured feet. In this instance, Benjamin’s are obviously a bright blue, and this color is used widely in both the text and the illustrations. Sue Macartney’s graphic designer background is evident in the clever layout of the book, itself. Both the front and back flyleaf are decorated with illustrations of ocean life. The drawings, done in pen, ink and digital media, are playful, action-packed and sparkle with humor. The author has included “A note about Trash in the Ocean” which could lead into an important discussion with even the youngest reader. The publisher has also noted that a glossary of facts about Galapagos wildlife is available at the publisher’s website.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.