Mr Benn: Gladiator

Publisher: Andersen Press

One day, Mr Benn decides to pop into his favourite costume shop as a way to escape building works being done on his street. The shopkeeper lets him try on the gladiator costume, and – in the magic and mysterious changing room – Mr Benn opens a door that takes him right back into Roman Britain.

Finding himself on a road in the process of being built, Mr Benn sees the Emperor pass by in his chariot who demands that Mr Benn be taken to the Arena to fight. He’s not keen on the idea, but learns from the other gladiators that to refuse means he’ll get a “squidging” – which doesn’t sound very pleasant at all. Fortunately, Mr Benn and his friends come up with an ingenious plan to save all the gladiators and give the Emperor a taste of his own medicine.

David McKee’s iconic Mr Benn series delighted children on TV and in the Mr Benn books for many years, with Mr Benn choosing a different costume at the mysterious costume shop every time and finding himself at a new and fascinating time and place. McKee’s brilliantly detailed pen and ink drawings in Gladiator use unusual perspective to give a kind of dreamlike feel whilst still containing lots of fascinating detail for kids that might be learning about Romans for the first time – and they’re funny too.

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