Happy Holidays. I know it’s a few days before Christmas but I wanted to get a post up for Pig-Out Yuletide before celebrating the Holidays. So let’s meet today’s featured Pig: Benny!
I have a growing fascination for Scandinavia. It started with a blog, then design, and next thing I knew it was infiltrating my shelves. It began with Tove Jansson (The Summer Book), then Steig Larsson (Millennium Trilogy), and then Astrid Lingdren (Pippi Longstocking). When I took Benny Had Enough off the shelf of my favorite book store it was the picture struck me:
Benny looked sad and miserable. ‘lo and behold, I discover that the book I was holding was translated from Swedish. I guess I’m having a Scandinavian infatuation consciously and unconsciously. Anyway, onwards to the book.
The story itself is fairly simple. Benny had enough. He had enough of showers, of cleaning up and of doing what his mom told him. He decides to leave and find a home for himself.
Benny can be your toddler who recently discovered the power of NO. He could be your angsty teenager seeking independence or even your prototypical prodigal son. The story takes a powerful beginning where in little benny decides to leave. Surprisingly enough his mother doesn’t stop him.
He journeys through town like the prodigal son seeking company and a place to stay, but no one seems to notice and care. He goes on and finds heaven—a field where he could dig his own mud hole. He lavishes himself in the mud only to discover that his little piece of heaven is part of someone’s lot. In fear of having his tail straightened out by the old man he runs forgetting his stuffed animal—little piggy.
At this point we see a parallelism between Benny and her mom, and Benny and little piggy. He goes search for Little Piggy and finds him dirty. He couldn’t stand seeing Little Piggy dirty and so Benny cleans him and bring him home.
The ending highlights a few things: The unconditional love of a mother as he doesn’t ask or questions Benny but simply brings him home. Another is the sense of responsibility that makes its way in Benny as his mother exclaims ” Oh benny you’ve washed Little Piggy!” Like the prodigal son story arc we find a changed son coming home to his mother. Benny may had enough, but in the bigger world his little complains aren’t much.
The illustrations are beautiful and simple. There is great detail in the drawings as most pages are filled with images accompanied by two to three sentences. There is beautiful detailing that allows parents and children go through a naming exercise. Olof Landstrom’s illustration offer non-Swedish readers a feel of Swedish Homes.
Barbro Lindgren was born in Stockholm, Sweden and is a prolific children’s book author. She won the Astrid Lindgren Award in 1973. She started her career in 1965 with the books about Mattias. Her Character Benny (the Pig) recurs in two other books namely Benny and the Binky and Oink Oink Benny.
Olof Landstrom was born in Finland in 1943 and often works with his wife Lena on animated films. With his wife, they have published several books about Nisse/Will.