April 8, 2016

A Box For Benny

A Box for Benny cover_240Brockhampton Press: Leicester, 1958 / Illustrations: Jillian Willett ©1958 Hodder & Stoughton

This book is based on Leila’s childhood in Salford, Lancashire, in a Jewish immigrant neighbourhood, where street games between neighbourhood children were normal, pre-electonics and tv, with little motorised traffic.

Her parents had arrived from an area of Poland threatened by a Russian pogrom. Her father was a doctor and her mother a teacher.

Magnet (Methuen Children’s Books) first published the paperback edition in 1983. Their inside blurb goes: “Benny is upset. he badly needs a shoe-box to play a special game with the other children in his street; but no-one has one to give him, though he does get a red balloon from the ragman. This is the start of Benny’s clever idea. He swaps his balloon for Mrs Moss’s bottle of Ashes of Roses scent; and so begins a long series of exchanges in which he receives a new stamp, a gold powder compact, the chance of winning a thousand pounds, a half-penny and a silver horse. But Benny is willing to give up all his swaps in the hope that one of them may finally lead him to a shoe-box…

Click here to read “Our Street”, an article Leila wrote about the street-games of her childhood.