Benny-benny Seawater: The First Day of the Summer Holidays by Lisa Johnson, illustrated by Katherine Laidlay. Published by The Shetland Times, £6.99.
As children around Shetland look forward to six long weeks of freedom and adventure, Benny-benny Seawater makes a timely reappearance in a charming story book written by Lisa Johnson and illustrated by Katherine Laidlay.
This simple tale, complemented by Laidlay’s beautifully observed illustrations, powerfully evokes the magic of The First Day of the Summer Holidays.
Benny-benny is spending the summer holidays in Shetland on his aunty and uncle’s croft. The story follows the young boy through an action-packed day, as he lends a hand by feeding hens and lambs, and enjoys the freedom of playing outdoors: building a dam and skimming stones with friends.
The story certainly found eager listeners in the two children I read to. Both were particularly taken with the nicely observed scene with the hungry lambs whose enthusiasm takes Benny-benny by surprise.
Laidlay’s illustrations are colourful and simple, yet also display close attention to detail. The beautifully rendered Fair Isle gansie worn by Benny-benny’s uncle and the children’s over-sized wellies are especially striking. The First Day of the Summer Holidays is for children of all ages to enjoy. It would be good to think of bairns all over Shetland enjoying a summer in the outdoors, as carefree and adventurous as Benny-benny Seawater.