Daphne Pang’s picture book No School for Ben: What Will Happen? aims to answer that question accompanied by bright, engaging illustrations by Dwain Esper.
In this story, a boy named Ben becomes bored with his all-too-predictable school-day routine. After “a fun weekend,” he tells his mom he doesn’t need to go to school anymore because he already knows his ABCs and numbers, and “It is the same things to do every day.” Ben’s mom then leads him imaginatively through his school-day routine, showing him what impact his withdrawal from school would have on others.
That notion initially seems sound, but the author emphasizes adult concerns that aren’t likely to convince children of the importance of going to school. For example, Pang describes how Mom and Dad will have to stay home and will earn less money if Ben shuns school. Town businesses will close, Mom warns, when parents must stay home taking care of kids. Only belatedly does Pang return the emphasis to the child by having Mom assert, “You are very important to us all.”
Additionally, Pang’s execution is sometimes flawed in ways that a good copy editor would have corrected, as in this example from Mom: “If you, and your friends who follow you, do not go to school, Ed’s school bus will be empty. He will soon no longer has [sic] a job to come round anymore, to take you to meet your classmates and teacher.”
While Mom eventually convinces Ben that his attending school is important to his bus driver, teacher, parents and even stores in town, the story’s appeal is undercut by the guilt trip. Focusing on Ben’s needs instead of those of the adults – perhaps describing how the bus driver would miss Ben’s smile or how his parents are proud of his school work – would make this a more positive and appealing book to read aloud to reluctant young students.
Also available as an ebook.