Written by Miguel Gouveia
Illustrated by Raquel Catalina
Price: £11.99 / $13.99
A charmingly adapted story from the Jewish oral tradition
Explores the ever-changing landscape of childhood, the challenges and joys of growing up and the importance of intergenerational family relationships
A celebration of ingenuity, imagination and resourcefulness
Beautifully illustrated throughout
When Benjy is born, his grandfather, a tailor, gives him a beautiful handmade blanket to keep him warm in his cot. As Benjy grows, he takes his blanket with him everywhere. He loves it so much that even when it becomes ragged and stained, he will do anything to stop his mother from throwing it out.
He enlists his resourceful grandfather who cuts, measures and sews and turns the blanket into a coat. Benjy wears the coat every day, morning to night until he grows too tight and his mother threatens again to throw it away. His grandfather turns it into a waistcoat and when that no longer fits, it becomes a handkerchief, and when the handkerchief is torn beyond repair, it is finally turned into a button. But then Benjy loses the button and his grandfather must come up with an even more imaginative solution – one that will ensure the blanket will last forever.
Based on a story from the Jewish oral tradition, this is a beautiful tale of the love between a boy and his grandfather, between a boy and his blanket, the inevitable passing of time and the glorious power of imagination.
Miguel Gouveia was born in Santo Tirso, Portugal. He started telling stories as a teacher in 2001 and seven years later he created Bruaá Editora. In 2010, after finishing his Master’s Degree in Books and Children’s Literature as the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, he left teaching to devote himself to publishing, translation and music. Since then he has been storytelling in libraries, bookshops, schools and at festivals, with a repertoire made out of the oral tradition of different cultures.
Raquel Catalina was born in Madrid in 1973 where she studied Fine Arts. Her career as an illustrator started in 2010 after moving to Valencia where she studied a postgraduate degree in illustration at Spain’s ESAT (Escuela Superior de Arte y Tecnología). Since then, she has worked as a children’s illustrator for prestigious publishers. Her work has been exhibited in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. Her portfolio can be seen at www.raquelcatalina.com
‘When an author and illustrator take on the challenge of reinterpreting a classic, they face an inevitable challenge. In Benjy’s Blanket, Miguel Gouveia and Raquel Catalina offer a new approach to the classic Yiddish folktale and song about a humble garment that eventually disintegrates, but survives in the form of a metaphor about the permanence of storytelling. Although readers will be reminded of both Simms Taback’s Joseph Had a Little Overcoat and My Grandfather’s Coat by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock, Benjy’s Blanket engages with the idea of transient objects and lasting language in a unique way. Where the earlier classics used rhythmic lines to involve readers, Gouveia constructs a quiet and matter-of-fact narrative of a boy and his grandfather, illustrated by Catalina’s emotionally evocative pictures. The result is an unforgettable picture book about intergenerational bonds. While the original folk song playfully suggests that one can create something from nothing, Benjy’s Blanket replaces that notion with clear evidence of what is left. The grandfather’s legacy of dedication and love are the “good enough material” that the boy will transform into lasting words.’ – Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council
‘I believe this may be one of my favorite children’s books of all time. Everything about it, from the story to the artwork, is stunning. There are so few books that feature Jewish children in the US, making the diversity a much welcome aspect of the story. This would be a wonderful book for a grandparent to gift their grandchild or vice-versa. I recommend buying two and sharing it over zoom.’ – GoodReads.com
When Benjy is born, his grandfather makes him a blanket (gloriously depicted by Raquel Catalina in Mexican-quilt style). As Benjy grows, the blanket becomes a fine superhero cape. Later, grandpa recycles it as a jacket for Benjy. And when the jacket is outgrown, a waistcoat. Then a scarf. And so on – until it’s just a button. Then – one day, it’s lost. But the greatest wonder is that grandpa can still make something from it (can you guess what?). Benjy’s Blanket is adapted by Miguel Gouveia from a traditional Jewish tale, while Catalina’s illustrations tell a subtle parallel story, since, as the blanket changes, grandpa, too, is changed by time. A moving parable about making memories, for all ages.’ – The Jewish Chronicle