Bentley and the Magic Sticks

Children - Grade K-3rd
38 Pages
Reviewed on 05/22/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Bentley and the Magic Sticks, written by Claire Eckard and illustrated by Anne York, is a children's picture book centered around a big, lonely, domestic canine. Bentley is of a giant unspecified dog breed and his enormous size makes normal day-to-day living different from dogs of average size. Bentley is well-loved and attached to his human parents, and returns his love for them in a helpful fashion. What more could a pup want than to be comfortable and loved? Friends. Bentley is ignored by all of the other dogs at the dog park that enjoy playing together. He watches sadly as they romp and frolic, filling the time by looking for new sticks to add to his collection at home. One night Bentley finds that someone else truly cares for him also, a Fairy DogMother named Tia who brings Bentley's stick collection to life.

Bentley and the Magic Sticks is a book where Claire Eckard uses the customary children's themes of friendship, compassion, acceptance, generosity, and love to promote favorable qualities with the story's moral basis. The tale of Bentley moves away from resolutions that are self-taught and gives that agency to his Fairy DogMother in a Cinderella-esque twist. Bentley does not solve the problem himself, learn a lesson, or change at any point in the book but the other dogs at the park do after meeting Sticky. The substance over style writing is countered by Anne York's richly colorful illustrations which marry together modern graphic artistry and traditional design work. Most impressive are the facial expressions of Bentley and all of the dogs at the park. There's an adorable scene where two pups were peeking from behind a bush as Bentley plays with Sticky and the smaller dog practically leaps off the page in excitement. The kids had fun with the pictures and there were giggles galore as we tucked them into bed.

Kristine Zimmerman

Bentley and the Magic Sticks is about a great big dog with an equally big heart. Unfortunately, his huge size makes the other dogs at the dog park afraid to play with him. This makes Bentley sad, but he does have something that makes him happy; collecting sticks. He collects all kinds of sticks and stores them in his dog bed, which is too small for him to sleep in anyway. One night Tia, his Fairy DogMother, uses her magic to create a friend for Bentley out of his sticks. Bentley and Stick-Dog have a wonderful day until they go to the dog park. Sadly, all that is left of Stick-Dog is his tail, which Bentley takes home. Tia steps in again and shows the dogs how they’ve hurt Bentley. His Fairy DogMother also uses her magic once again to make something special for Bentley.

Claire Eckard has created an adorable character in Bentley. Kids will fall in love with him and all his sweet ways. There is a little message too about accepting those that are different from us. Anne York’s illustrations are wonderful. I especially loved Sticky! He really looks like a dog made from sticks. Bentley also demonstrates ways to find happiness even though things don’t always go your way. Bentley joins the ranks of other fun dog characters, like Clifford and Spot. Fortunately, we haven’t heard the last of Bentley because more books are planned. Bentley and the Magic Sticks is delightful and will be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Trisha Dawn

Claire Eckard’s Bentley and the Magic Sticks is a story about a big dog named Bentley. Bentley is the biggest dog you’ll ever see. Everything about him is intimidating, which is why many find him scary at first but Bentley is nothing but a sweetheart. His heart is as big as his size. However, no one knows how sweet and kind he is because they are not willing to approach him and get to know him. Will Bentley be able to make friends someday?

Bentley and the Magic Sticks is a short and fascinating story filled with valuable lessons. One lesson you can find in the story is not to judge a book by its cover. Bentley is such a sweet and loving dog despite looking different from everyone else. Bentley's charming and warm personality is not something that others would expect from his big size and intimidating appearance. The story also teaches everyone to be grateful and appreciative of the things they have. Bentley always appreciates everything he has despite being lonely. He loves the small bed he sleeps in, the delicious meal he eats every day, and the special sticks he collects from playing outside. He is so lonely he considers the sticks as his friend. To him, he is still very lucky to have such a wonderful life. I am pleased and happy with how the story ends for Bentley. He deserves all the happiness in the world! Overall, the book was really inspiring and well-written! Well done!

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Bentley and the Magic Sticks by Claire Eckard is a wonderful, feel-good story for kids. Bentley is a huge dog, bigger than any you have ever seen. But, because of his size, Bentley didn’t have any friends; he just scared them all away. This made Bentley sad and he turned to the only friends he did have – his sticks. One day, he discovers that his sticks are special, with magic powers that teach Bentley how to make friends and how to like himself once more. Bentley may be different from all the other dogs on the outside, but on the inside, he’s just the same.

Bentley and the Magic Sticks by Claire Eckard is a cool story for kids, not just for parents to read to them but for schools too. As well as being a fun story, it teaches kids that we are not all the same and, just because someone may be a bit different, it doesn’t mean they should be shunned – sadly, we see this all too often in society today. It also teaches kids how to treat animals with compassion and kindness. It is filled with wonderful illustrations that bring the words to life, with lovely characters, including Bentley, the Fairy Dogmother – a nice touch – and Sticky, Bentley’s new friend. Kids of all ages will love this story and older ones (and a few adults too) could probably learn something from it. After all, children learn from what they are taught by others, from what they see every day.