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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Bentley is a children’s book written by Lisa M. Clouser and illustrated by Amrit Tigga. When a hunter spies an unusual critter in the rainforest, he traps and captures the animal before selling it to a pet store. Not knowing the animal’s diet, the pet store owner chose to feed it fruit, before giving it a name. Curious visitors at the store stare at the tiny creature and react terribly, scaring it even more. When one boy pulls the critter out of its cage and holds it by the end of its tail, the animal shrieks in pain, while the other caged, exotic animals in the store are horrified at what they see. As pet puppies are purchased and taken home by families, the critter becomes desperate for the same thing to happen so that it might escape its tiny prison. A kind and loving family finally enters the pet store, showing both wonder and interest in the tiny creature before purchasing it. On the journey to their home, the family names the critter Bentley. Grateful to be finally free of its tiny enclosure and horrible surroundings, Bentley spends the night in peace, relaxed on a large, comfortable bed with two children who’d fallen asleep rather quickly, due to all of the excitement. What they find in the morning is absolutely astonishing.
Lisa M. Clouser’s amazing tale of a mysterious, wild animal is well written. It brings about many valuable lessons, such as the trauma caused to any wild animal when taken away from its natural environment, and caging it in captivity. The cruel and unkind treatment of onlookers towards the strange critter took its toll on Bentley, both physically and emotionally, resulting in both a broken tail and broken spirit; under no circumstances should wild animals be brought into captivity and caged, whether for profit or entertainment. The kindness and love shown towards the unusual-looking critter was returned in abundance, showing that most animals are sentient creatures which are able to feel emotions and recognize kindness. It only took one night of peace, freedom and comfort to bring the animal out of its shell, causing it to properly develop and transform into something of magnificence and true beauty. At the end of the story, a coloring-in page is provided, enabling children to put their own colorful flavor to Bentley’s amazing new form. I quite enjoyed both the story and illustrations in this wonderful tale, and recommend Bentley (the book) to readers aged 4-7, so they can learn all of the valuable lessons contained within the pages.