Jim Benton is the creator of many licensed properties, some for big
kids, some for little kids, and some for grown-ups who, frankly,
are behaving like little kids. You may already know his properties:
It's Happy Bunny (TM) or Just Jimmy (TM), and bestselling book
series Dear Dumb Diary.
Jim lives in Michigan with his spectacular wife and kids. This is his first picture book for Scholastic.
A bear named Donut takes center page and burps. That's the end of Benton's (Dear Dumb Diary series) very silly and minimal new picture book. Except not quite. As it turns out, Donut the bear disagrees and proceeds to make a nuisance of himself, arguing the point with the narrator, disappearing and jumping back onto the page, even going so far as to disguise himself. Finally, the narrator is worn down by the bear's perseverance and tells a story featuring a unicorn, a robot, and a talking ice-cream cone. Except not quite. This time, unfortunately, the pages have run out. Cartoonishly funny, if more than a little reminiscent of a certain bus-driving pigeon, Benton's big, goofy bear with the huge, expressive mouth is more than likely to get rooms full of young readers rooting along for more stories. A fast, lightweight confection that will leave the palate as quickly as it arrived, but for that brief moment, it's nothing but an enjoyable treat.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
'Once there was a bear named Donut. And he burped.' The story's supposed to end there, but Donut isn't really ready to go home, despite the insistence of the stern narrator, and the bear makes a few desperate attempts to stick around, including donning a mustache and hat and wearing a sign that says 'YOU CAN'T SEE ME.' An exasperated narrator finally concedes and sends the blue bear to the castle of rainbow candy unicorns with a robot and talking ice cream cone, but alas, the pages run out and do indeed put an end to Donut's story--unless, of course, you want to read it again, per Donut's enthusiastic request. Donut's kinship to Benton's Happy Bunny franchise is apparent in the bear's crayon-like and rounded outline, crisp pale blue, and emotive mannerisms. The book's design is sharp, with minimal figures against goldenrod pages in the bold, digitally created art. Postmodern, breaking-the-fourth-wall picture books have become an established genre by now, though, and there's not much to this one to distinguish it in a genre that's included stellar works such as Willems' We Are in a Book! (BCCB 10/10) and Gravett's Again! (BCCB 9/13). Additionally, the humor often overly relies on gags like burps rather than the cleverness of the construction. Still, Donut stealthily tip-toeing across the page in red-sneakered feet going 'SNEAK SNEAK' is going to garner giggles, and this would have plenty of possible pairings for a disruptive storytime, especially for audiences who can't bear a story to end.