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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The second installment in Ben’s Adventures Series, Under the Big Top will take us into another imaginative adventure as Ben, one among a set of triplets, goes to school with his two siblings and has fun as he conjures up a circus inside his head. When creating his imagined world, Ben is always cheerful and very welcoming. Elizabeth Gerlach has a penchant for catchy verse. Her alliterative and onomatopoeic verse creates a hearty reading experience for parents and children. For the second time, we also appreciate the lively illustrations of Stephanie Hilder that are enviably wholesome and appealing. A bonus treat is that we see what Ben is planning for his next adventure as soon as he goes home.
The most extraordinary aspect of this story is the message that children’s play is not confined to the physical that promotes motor skills. The exercise of imagination or make-believe play which children engage in is an essential exercise of their cognitive skills. The values of imaginative play promote a sound mind. Ms. Gerlach has a profound approach to this theme with her hands-on experience as Ben’s mother. She uses this to create awareness of the needs of special children and to spread kindness to everyone that she encounters. This book is a delightful romp, a journey into the colorful world of a child’s vivid imagination. The parent and teacher involvement is uplifting, and children will find a sense of security in the presence of familiar grownups. Under the Big Top is a must-have for any home, school, and library.