The blue bench by Albert Asensio

cover image

Berbay Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9780648397304.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Diversity, Friendship. First published in Catalonia, this evocative picture book reveals more of its subtle depths on rereading. A park bench is at the centre of the tale, surveying all it sees as life goes on through the year. As seasons come and go, different people use the bench, different animals appear in the trees' branches, and a variety of people walk past. Each is portrayed on the pages of this book, like a time lapse camera, revealing a parade of life and activities.
The bench is painted, a squirrel collects nuts, pigeons mess up the ground around, but the painter, Peter comes back to clean up the mess. Over the years children play together in the sandpit and eventually two fall in love, a variety of people and their dogs sit on the bench, watching the world go by, the young and the old, the boy and girl coming together, paralleled by the birds in the tree. A nest is built, eggs appear,and the couple still sit on the bench, but one day when it snows, she sits on the bench alone, and keeps on coming to that same bench week after week, smiling in her memories. And then someone else sits beside her, the bench again a witness to the continuance of life.
A charming witty tale of the continuity of life, of seasons and generations, of the old adage, 'life goes on', gloriously supported by softly rendered illustrations emphasising companionship and continuance.
Fran Knight