Ben's Dream and Other Stories & Fun

Geography teachers may wince when they see the beginning of the title story, one of three in this delightful collection. Soon after Ben begins studying for a geography test, he falls asleep while reading an apparently colorless, uninspiring textbook. But the dream the text inspires is anything but colorless. Ben imagines his house is carried away in a flood; he sees such sights as the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, and the Sphinx. The animation, based on line drawings from Chris Van Allsburg’s book of the same name, is as captivating as the majestic music. While the closing credits are shown, a dotted line traces the odyssey, ending a satisfying — and painless — geography lesson.

”Your Feets Too Big,” the title of a nonsense song by Fats Waller, also is the title of the second story, a clever, animated interpretation of the lyrics. Waller plays the piano and sings about the suitor rejected by his girlfriend because his ”pedal extremities are colossal.” The poor sap in this case is an appropriately forlorn-looking elephant.

Youngsters may miss some of the subtleties in ”Fish,” the last story, but they’ll still enjoy this tale about a young girl who enlists three detectives to find her brother. The sleuths — all named George — are playing the card game fish when she knocks at their door. Their search takes them to an airport and for a ride on a Ferris wheel. Although the girl eventually concedes she has no brother, the men help her find what she was looking for all along — friendship. A

Ben's Dream and Other Stories & Fun
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