Author: Sara J. Yoder
Major Themes: Amish, Children, Farm Life
Synopsis: A series of books about a young Amish farm boy.
I love the Benjie books. They are sweet stories about a little Amish boy growing up on his family’s farm. I just read the first book, Benjie, aloud to my 4-year-old. I’m not sure how much he understands, but he frequently asks for his “Jimsie” book. I did find out this evening that he remembered one story; the older children were relating incidents they remembered from years gone by, and what he “remembered” was a story from this book about a chick that was taken into the house, with tragic results.
In Benjie, the main character, Benjie, of course, is about five or six years old. His dad has decided he can have a new hat, and gets one when he goes to the store. Benjie struggles with being careful with his things, though, and when he follows the mama cat to find her kittens, instead of doing the chores he is supposed to, the hat is ruined. Will Dad ever consider Benjie responsible enough to have a new hat again? All through the book, Benjie and his brother and sister, Ray and Ellen, and their cousins who live just down the road enjoy life on the farm, learning about life and enjoying each other. Aunt Mandy comes to live with the family for awhile, the dog is hit on the road but not killed, and many other things happen through the summer.
The Benjie stories are innocent portrayals of a happy family. They are written by an Amish woman, about Amish children, for Amish children. You will find them different from most other literature available today. Hard things in life (such as the death of an animal) are discussed. The children are very real children, and nothing happens that wouldn’t actually happen to a farm child. One thing you’ll notice is a fair amount of description of the children’s thoughts; these stories don’t move all that fast. The binding of the book itself ought to be mentioned; the first three (Benjie, Benjie Goes to School, and Benjie the In-Between Boy) are all hardcover with signatures that are sewn together; these books will last a lifetime. I love the Benjie stories, and my boys do, too!
Listening Level—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12
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