cover image Benjamin's Barn

Benjamin's Barn

Reeve Lindbergh, Author, Susan Jeffers, Illustrator Dial Books $13.95 (18p) ISBN 978-0-8037-0613-2

Unlike Lindbergh and Jeffers's popular The Midnight Farm , though similar in format, the text and art of this picture book for preschoolers are lackluster and flat. On a rainy day, Benjamin plays in his barn, filling it in his imagination with exotic creatures. The repetitive eight-line verse on each double-page spread extols the barn's virtues: ``Benjamin's barn / Is so big and so soft / He could ask a frail princess / To sleep in the trough / Or a pair of raccoons / To curl up in the loft / (Because Benjamin's barn / Is enormously soft.)'' But Jeffers's paintings, in particular, seem somewhat strained, as when Lindbergh's ``soft barn'' is belied by a robust princess who lies in prickly straw watched over by a huge raccoon climbing a post. While the idea on which the book is based has possibilities, the execution is disappointingly weak. Ages 3-8. (May)