Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends
Written by Joanne Linden, Illustrated by Tom Goldsmith
Ben is short. Zip is shorter. One day while they are walking on the boardwalk, a sudden
storm blows in. Frightened by the thunder, Zip disappears into the crowd.

Pint-sized Ben tries to search for Zip, but all he sees are knees!
Right knees, left knees, knees with sandy patches.
Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.

Ben finds a higher spot. Now all he sees are bellies! He climbs the highest lookout on the beach
- the lifeguard stand - and sees that the rain has chased everyone from the beach!
Now how will Ben find Zip?  

A tribute to friends, boardwalks, beaches, and summer, Ben & Zip will keep readers
guessing until the very end... when two short friends are reunited.  
Hardcover, 32 full color pages, ages 4-8
ISBN 9781936261284, Spring 2014
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Praise for Ben & Zip

From Atlanta Parent
* included in Best Books of 2014: Parents will gain a child’s perspective in this adventure featuring two short friends named Ben and
Zip who become separated while strolling on a crowded boardwalk at the beach. As poor Ben frantically searches high and low for his
friend, he can only see knees when he stands, all kinds of bellies when he stands on a bench, and way too much hair while standing on a
tables. Ben’s resourcefulness to find his friend shows readers that you should never give up, no matter what size you are!

Kirkus Reviews
A beachside lost-and-found adventure, told from a kid’s point of view. “Ben was short. Zip was shorter. They skipped along the
boardwalk toward their favorite spot....” So begins this tale of a small boy who loses his smaller friend on a beachside boardwalk. The
text informs readers that they are headed toward a popcorn wagon, while the illustration, a low aerial view of the beach and boardwalk
dotted with people, makes it hard to tell who’s Ben and who’s Zip. Suddenly the wind whips up, the sound of thunder fills the air, and
Zip dashes off, disappearing into the crowd. Then Ben is shown, dressed in a bold yellow-and-blue basketball jersey, frantically
searching for Zip with his parents in tow. At first, all Ben can see is the vista from his level: “[r]ight knees, left knees, knees with sandy
patches. / Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.”
The image of this forest of feet and legs is delightfully
; some legs are hairy and some are not, and one pair reveals a whopping sunburn above the sock line. Each time Ben climbs a bit
higher to scout out from a better view, the prose turns into a humorous rhyming description of what he sees: bellies, hair, an empty
beach (it has begun to rain).
The well-paced watercolor illustrations, abundant with marvelous, comic details, are a neat
complement to the adventure. This boardwalk frolic proves even small fries can solve big mysteries

From School Library Journal
Ben and Zip are heading toward their favorite popcorn cart on the boardwalk when the skies above start to rumble. Lickety-split, Zip
bolts through the crowd, and Ben starts searching the seaside high and low for him with his parents racing behind him. When he looks
low, the little boy sees only knees.
The comical art depicts people of all shapes and sizes, and the accompanying rhyme is just
plain fun. Both the art and the rhyme are funny.
From a bench, Ben sees nothing but bellies. He looks up high but sees only a sea
of hair, and still no Zip. Ah, he remembers where they were headed and, sure enough, his friend is there. Readers are in for a surprise,
however, when they discover Zip's identity.
This is a fun-filled treat, filled with bright colors, amusing details, and beach scenes
bustling with activity.
—Reviewed by Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

From Children's Literature, reviewed by Ken and Sylvia Marantz
Ben and Zip, short and shorter friends, are at the beach playing on the boardwalk when Zip is frightened by the thunder from a sudden
storm. He runs away, and Ben tries to find him in the crowd. Being so short, all Ben can see is knees. Climbing on a bench reveals only
a wide variety of bellies. From atop a picnic table, he sees all sorts of hair, from curly to swirly. Finally, from the top of the lifeguard
stand, he sees the beach deserted in the rain. Ben runs back to the boardwalk hoping to find Zip there.
Where and who Zip is turns
out to be the final surprise of a happy, rhyming ending.
Goldsmith uses India ink and watercolors to create naturalistic,
lighthearted scenes of activity on beach and boardwalk
in single- and double-page illustrations. He emphasizes the humor of
the text
; some of his knees house thickets of bristles while others are very skinny. Ben is a cartoon-y character with whom it is
easy to empathize as he searches in the rain for his friend.

From Horn Book Reviews
"Ben was short. Zip was shorter." While strolling on the boardwalk, young Ben loses Zip. Readers follow the search for what they
assume is a child, but there's
a well-played surprise at book's end: Zip is a dog. The ... illustrations show the world through Ben's
eyes, which means that one spread is devoted to knees, another to bellies.

From Kates Bookery Rating: 5 stars
I love surprise endings. As a grown up reading kids' books, I'm not surprised very often by the ending. But the author and illustrator
worked together and got me on this one.... I like the idea of being so in-the-moment (or on the current page) that my mind doesn't think
too much about what's coming next (or on the final page). I'll get there when I get there.

This is
a super new book with laugh-out-loud pages and wonder-what'll-happen pages and one big oh-my-gosh-OF-
COURSE! page
at the end. Linden writes in a format you don't see very often: some parts rhyme, some parts don't. It works, and
how nice for something a little different. And the book wouldn't be as super without the sweet and funny illustrations by Goldsmith.

Here's the story: Two friends, Ben and Zip, are walking along the boardwalk on a hot, summer day. Suddenly, a storm overshadows
the beach and Zip gets a little nervous and runs off. Ben can't find him; he spends the next dozen pages searching for his buddy.

First he searches low, from his own short perspective. And all he sees are:
Right knees, left knees, knees with sandy patches.
Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.

Next he gets a little higher, and scouts from the top of a bench. All he sees are (and how great is this illustration?!):
Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies white and brown.
Hairy bellies, jelly bellies, bellies hanging down.

You see the pattern, I'm sure. As the clouds open up and rain starts coming down, Ben searches high among the heads and then climbs
up to the tallest lifeguard stand he can find to look at the now empty beach. No Zip. Where could he be?

Right at this point, my kids started to get worried. They were all in to this story and cared very much for Ben and even
more for Zip, even though they didn't know what he looked like. It was Zip, of course, who was lost and they know how
scary that can feel. (You know an author's done something right when three kids of three different ages are still, quiet, and
impatiently waiting to find out what's next.)

And then Ben hears something. And they two friends are reunited. And my three kids could finally lean back in their chairs
and breathe a sigh of relief. And this truly happened: they sat back in their chairs, laughed a little, and then came forward
in their chairs, demanding I read it again so that they could look for clues that they should/could have seen to figure out
who Zip is earlier.

I can't tell the ending. You've got to find out for yourself!

NY Parenting
Joanne Linden’s suspenseful picture book, set on the boardwalk, is a breath of salty, beach air! “Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends”
follows Ben’s nail-biting adventure as he tries to find his pal, Zip, who was separated from him at the seashore. From Ben’s
perspective, the boardwalk can be an ocean of view-blocking legs. Linden’s enterprising hero scales higher and higher vantage points in
search of his rogue, vertically challenged companion. The boardwalk amusements and other illustrations are drawn in full-color pen-and-
ink, with
a double scoop of humor on top, by Tom Goldsmith. Recommended for kids ages 4-8 — and any parent who wants to
preview summer’s pleasures — “Ben & Zip” is
a real page-turner with playful verse and a heart-warming conclusion that’s as
sweet as salt water taffy

From MLReads blog
Ben’s friend is missing.  He searches the boardwalk and stands on a bench to get a better view.  It doesn’t help.  So he climbs a picnic
bench.  Then, a lifeguard stand where he is able to see his friend.  There’s a surprise to this book I’m not sharing.  
The illustrations in
this book are a relief from the airbrushed media our children are exposed to daily.  It shows what real people look like at
the beach.
 “Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies white and brown.  Hairy bellies, jelly bellies, bellies hanging down.”

From Flying Off My Bookshelf blog
Ben and his friend Zip are both short. Out on the boardwalk, Zip gets lost! Ben frantically searches for him, but all he can see is feet,
knees, bellies, hair, and then nothing, as he climbs higher and higher and a storm sweeps in. Finally, he realizes where Zip must be and
races to rescue his friend.
There's a
tricky twist to the story - from the cover and the way it's framed you think it's another little boy, but it's actually the dog of
course, stuck under the boardwalk. It's also got a
nice diversity of people, as Ben climbs up higher and higher to look for Zip he sees
all kinds of body types and races.
There are some nice chanting refrains and cute illustrations. Not award-winning, but
definitely a pleasant summer read and a good
choice for storytime or one on one sharing.

From The Corner on Character
Themes: friendship, point of view, safety
Brief synopsis: Ben and his friend are strolling down the boardwalk when suddenly Zip takes off running. Ben looks for Zip from many
vantage points to no avail. What will it take for the friends to be reunited?
*Talk about safety with info from SafeKids Worldwide {
Ben went into problem-solving mode when he realized his friend was missing. Was Ben old enough to run up and down the beach
looking for his friend by himself? Can you find his parents in the background on any of the pages? What would you have done if you
were Ben?
Why I like this book:  When a book doesn't have a clear-cut character development theme that grabs me, I take my lead from my kids.
So, I tested the book out with a first-grade friend. I asked him whom this book was going to be about, and, from looking at the cover,
he predicted it's about two boys: Ben, the little boy who lost his ice cream, and Zip, the boy in the runner's shirt with the number 1 on it.
Because runners are fast and that's why he's named Zip, he added. Interesting thinking.
The book engaged this young fella, who loved alternating reading the pages aloud with me. He just giggled and giggled as he looked at
life on the beach from Ben's point of view. So intrigued by the book's surprise ending, he asked if he could take it to his class so that
they could read it. So we did. Before we took our picture walk, a first-grade girl intuitively asked, "Is this book about a dog?" but we
both pretended not to hear her question and asked who they thought was Ben and who they thought was Zip.
Even their teacher was
shocked by the terrific twist at the end of this tale.
The eye-catching detail in Goldsmith's colorful illustrations mixed in with some repetitive and rhyming text and multi-level
vantage points give the reader a sweet summertime story that won't quickly be forgotten.
Ask students what led them to believe that Zip was a boy. Find out how they felt when they figured out who Zip really was. Take a
second look by reading it again and have them write or draw a Readers' Response that shows how different the book looked the
second time through. Then discuss or role play about feelings: How must Ben have felt as he was frantically searching for his friend?
Find out if they've ever had a similar experience or feeling. Let them buddy buzz or pair and share.

From Edwards Book Club
Ben and Zip are best friends forever who like nothing better than strolling along the boardwalk. One day whilst walking, a sudden
shower blows in.  Frightened by the thunder, Zip bolts into the crowd. What will happen next? Will Ben find his friend?
I read this book with my 7 year old son (well, he read it to me) and
we enjoyed the story and laughed out loud at the illustrations.
The story follows two friends - Ben and Zip - on a day out on the boardwalk. The illustrations both inside and outside the book clearly
outlined what a boardwalk might look like and all the activity that would take place on a warm summer’s day.
A thunder storm blows in and Zip is scared away. Ben can’t find him anywhere and sets out to find him. His quest to find his best friend
is told in a very funny way and from the perspective of a small boy who is shorter than everyone else on the boardwalk.
The author
describes, in hilarious fashion, what you might see from that angle
– knees and bellies!
Along Ben’s journey, the author allows you to imagine the side stalls, the games, the prizes, the food, and the band playing on the
Follow Ben until he finds Zip and marvel at the surprising conclusion! Clever, funny, and descriptive, this book would be ideal for pre-
schoolers up to Grade 2.
Adults will enjoy it too and will perhaps be transported to a time when they were eye level with
people’s bellies!

CM Magazine, the Canadian Review of Materials
"...Punctuated with rhyming, the flow of this book has a nice sense of suspense which will keep children guessing, where’s Zip? ...Tom
Goldsmith’s beautiful watercolour Illustrations have a fun comical element." Reviewed by Kaitlyn Vardy, a Children’s Librarian at the
Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.

From First Grade Reading
First graders will love the fact that many of the illustrations are from their perspective. This would be great as a read aloud because all
the kids can help look for Zip. In fact, the reader will be driven to go back to the beginning and find all the places Ben, Zip, and each of
his parents appear. The illustrations are detailed and lively and do a great job of involving the reader. Along with literacy skills, this
book is good for teaching observation skills.

From Cute Peach Book Reviews blog
"...The book has both mommy and kid approval. This is an excellent book about a boy and his dog. It teaches the valuable lesson that
people come in all shapes and sizes. It has a classic style to it and I think it would be a cherished addition to any book collection."

From City Book Review, reviewed by Nishaant, Age 5
Ben and Zip are at the boardwalk. They are looking for popcorn. The sky turns black. Lightening! Thunder! Zip runs off. Ben looks for
Zip. All he sees are knees. He goes on a bench. All he sees are bellies. (
The awesomest page in the world! I love the belly
picture. There is a kid looking at his own belly button.
) Ben runs and climbs on a table to look for Zip. He just sees hair. (My
favorite hair is the Grandma’s – and the Grandpa’s.) Ben climbs up a ladder to the lifeguard stand. He sees nothing, just birds.
Everyone ran away, because it’s raining. (I have a question: why did they leave everything and just run away?) Then Ben sees the
popcorn stand from the ladder. He goes to the popcorn stand. He hears Zip. Will Ben find Zip? Read the book to find out. The
pictures are cute! The parents running after Ben are funny. (They are slow. “Excuse me, we’re trying to catch you here.”) This book is
I can read this book myself.

Midwest Book Review
Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends is a charming children's picturebook about a short little boy named Ben, and his good friend Zip. An
accident suddenly separates them during a busy day at the beach. How is Ben to find Zip? Ben is so short that all he can see is people's
knees! When he climbs on a bench, all he can see are bellies! When he climbs even higher, all he can see is hair! Ben perseveres, and
finally locates Zip in time to help him. Poor Zip has a tough time being short too, because Zip happens to be a dachshund!
delightful, free-spirited illustrations add the perfect touch to this silly, playful story.
Barnes & Noble
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Language rights sold: Chinese
Read Tom's interview on
Elizabeth Dulemba's blog.
Common Core
Curriculum for
Ben & Zip
* a Best Book of 2014, Atlanta Parent Magazine