Green Bean Books

Lenny and Benny

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Written by Naama Benziman
Translated by Shira Atik

Price: £12.99 / $12.95
Pages: 32
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781784386221
Subject: An award-winning retelling of a famous Jewish midrash about bickering and the Temple’s destruction


  • 2020 American Illustration Competition award winner
  • An enchanting and humorous tale adapted from a traditional Jewish midrash
  • Delivers a poignant message about the importance of taking care of friendships and resolving arguments
  • Stunningly and innovatively illustrated by an award-winning
  • Israeli artist and writer
  • Includes an 8-page foldout section


Lenny lives on the edge of the forest. He spends his days tending his roses, drinking cocoa and practising for jumping competitions. He can jump further than anyone in the forest; not even the, frog or squirrel can beat him. Until Benny turns up. Lenny and Benny have the best time in the world together but when Lenny realises that Benny can jump further than he can, he accuses him of cheating and lying and refuses to see him ever again. Time passes and Benny decides to have a party. He invites everybody except Lenny, but the postman accidentally delivers an invitation anyway. Lenny, ready to be friends again, is delighted. However, when he turns up, Benny is enraged, calls him a liar and says he never wants to see him again. But Lenny and Benny did once have the best time in the world together. Is any argument worth losing such a great friendship over? Inspired by the midrash about Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza, in which an inter-communal squabble ultimately leads to the destruction of the Second Temple, this is a story about the importance and joy of friendship, the futility of conflict and how destructive an unresolved argument can be.

Author Details

Naama Benziman is an award-winning Israeli artist, illustrator, curator, editor and author. She exhibits internationally and lectures on Illustration and Visual Literacy at Israel’s top visual arts academies. Her previous books for children are Emilia and Albert’s Tall Hat, both published in Hebrew by Am Oved. Born in Jerusalem, she now lives in Tel Aviv.

Read her interview > 


‘The midrashic sto­ry of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza is a tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish moral­i­ty tale used to illus­trate the prin­ci­ple of base­less hatred, con­sid­ered so egre­gious and wide­spread in the lat­ter days of the Jerusalem Tem­ple, that it was thought to be the source of the Tem­ple’s destruc­tion in 70 CE. Lenny and Ben­ny, by Naa­ma Ben­z­i­man, is an updat­ed ver­sion of this tale. The sto­ry takes place in a pris­tine for­est pop­u­lat­ed only by wildlife, where envy, revenge, and betray­al con­tin­ue to exist… In con­trast to Lenny and Ben­ny’s hap­py end­ing, the sto­ry of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza ends on a trag­ic note, with no peace­ful res­o­lu­tion. Ben­z­i­man includes a sum­ma­ry of the tra­di­tion­al sto­ry and a note remind­ing the read­er about the val­ue of kind­ness, with tips on how to han­dle anger. The read­er leaves know­ing that a hap­pi­er end­ing is not only pos­si­ble, but is achiev­able through action. The les­son is gen­tly told, with no didac­tic over­tones, and Benziman’s seem­ing­ly sim­ple line draw­ings are teem­ing with detail far more com­plex than is evi­dent at first glance, using col­or to clear­ly dif­fer­en­ti­ate the characters. Over­all, Lenny and Ben­ny tells an impor­tant sto­ry for each suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tion to inter­nal­ize and act upon. It would be of great use in both class­room dis­cus­sions and in fam­i­ly set­tings, mak­ing this charm­ing new ver­sion of an ancient tale high­ly recommended.’  Michal Hoschander Malen, Jewish Book Council

‘A sweet story of friendship and forgiveness with which many readers can identify.’ – Association of Jewish Libraries

Lenny and Benny is a contemporary retelling of the Kamtza and Bar Kamtza midrash about the value of friendship and the dangers of baseless hate and anger… While the ancient midrash ends with the destruction of the Second Temple, Lenny and Benny has a happy ending and is infused with humor throughout. The book includes a summary of the original midrash, along with a hopeful end note about the healing power of kindness and forgiveness…. Lenny and Benny is richly illustrated with whimsical and deceptively simple blue-and-red line drawings that are bursting with detail. These images help ease the intensity of the anger and arguing for young audiences. A two-page foldout of the chock-full-of-animals party scene adds to the attraction… This book is entertaining and thought-provoking, making it a useful addition to both classroom and home libraries. Pertinent year-round, it would also be a good choice for Tisha B’Av, commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples… The story is well crafted with positive and constructive Jewish content. It’s appropriate for picture book audiences, with an active storyline (jumping competitions! birthday party! animals!), vibrant illustrations, and accessible vocabulary. The blending of a contemporary tale with the ancient midrash give this book both religious and cultural relevancy.’

Shirley Reva Vernick,

‘Friendship and courage are centre stage in Lenny and Benny by Naama Benziman.We all know how problematic a broiges can be at a simcha. Even for Rabb its, Lenny and Benny are great pals. They drink cocoa, eat cookies and have the best time — until Benny beats Lenny at jumping. Cue accusations of cheating and adorable rabbit tantrums — escalating when Lenny is humiliated at Benny’s birthday party. Benziman deftly conveys the rabbit’s emotions, illustrating an enchanting forest world with an incredible intricacy, purely in red and blue on white.  After the touching (and instructive) denouement, a parallel is draw with the dispute of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza in 70 CE, said to have caused the destruction of Jerusalem.’ Angela Kiverstein, Jewish Chronicle

To read an interview on the Barbara Bietz blog, Jewish Books For Kids,  click here

To read an interview on the Deborah Kalb’s blog, click here