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Benny and Penny in Just Pretend

Benny and Penny in Just Pretend

5.0 1
by Geoffrey Hayes (Illustrator)

“[S]weet, delicately colored illustrations have an old-fashioned feel that gives the familiar sibling story a timeless quality…A charmer that will invite repeated readings.” – Booklist (starred review)
How can Benny pretend to be a brave pirate when his pesky little sister, Penny, wants to tag along and is always asking


“[S]weet, delicately colored illustrations have an old-fashioned feel that gives the familiar sibling story a timeless quality…A charmer that will invite repeated readings.” – Booklist (starred review)
How can Benny pretend to be a brave pirate when his pesky little sister, Penny, wants to tag along and is always asking for a hug? He tries to lose her, but when he does, he starts to feel a little lost himself. Penny proves her bravery and saves Benny from a bug. They hug as Benny explains he was only pretending she bugged him.
Veteran children’s book author and illustrator Geoffrey Hayes returns to his childhood love of comics, bringing unforgettable characters to life. With rare warmth and humor, he insightfully catches the essence of the bonds and tensions that unite siblings.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hayes, creator of the Otto and Uncle Tooth mysteries, chooses mouse siblings as the subjects for this comic book cum easy reader, first in a planned series (see Silly Lilly, reviewed p. 69). Jazzy, multipanel layouts add a contemporary dimension to simply worded episodes about an eager younger sister and standoffish brother who relish their rivalry more than they admit. Benny fashions himself as a buccaneer with a black tricorn hat and a wooden sword; when he stands in a crate, a thought bubble shows him aboard a galleon that flies the Jolly Roger. Sweet-natured Penny, clad in baby-blue princess gear, wants to play, too, and he automatically rebuffs her: "No! Pirates are brave, and you are a cry-baby." At last Benny initiates a game of hide-and-seek, with no intention of seeking-at least, until Penny disappears. Hayes's colored-pencil pictures set the action near the ground, in cozy panels depicting a secure woodland space. Shallow backgrounds ensure that the outside world never intrudes, except when Benny is startled by bugs that don't faze his sister. A close-range perspective gives readers a good look at Benny and Penny's facial expressions, supplying the context for the dialogue. These skillful drawings do just what they attempt: they lever beginning readers right into the story. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Mouse siblings Benny and Penny make their debut in Just Pretend, a graphic novel created specifically for younger readers by bestselling children's author Geoffrey Hayes. When Penny tries to play pirate with her older brother Benny, the grumpy mouse does everything he can to get rid of his pesky little sister—including getting her to crawl into a box for a game of hide-and-seek and then not looking for her. But when Penny disappears from the box, Benny grows worried. What could have happened to his little sister? Children will enjoy Hayes' "Benny and Penny" comics, which provide a nice blend of fanciful animal artwork and true-to-life stories of early childhood (inspired partly from Hayes' own childhood experiences with his younger brother Rory). Many siblings will also relate to Benny and Penny's constant squabbles and (hopefully) enjoy the fact that they always make up in the end. Fans will want to also read Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2 -Hayes successfully combines a comic-book format with effective easy-reader elements to introduce two delightful mouse siblings. Penny, clothed in pale-blue princess regalia, persistently seeks out her older brothera's company, though Benny, who is busy playing pirate, brushes her off repeatedly. Finally fed up, Benny calls her "a dumb, bad little sister!" and she dissolves into tears. After an offstage intercession from Mom, Benny suggests a game of hide-and-seek, hurries Penny into an outdoor storage bin, and tells her to stay put. Time passes without Penny making an appearance. Benny begins to miss her and is relieved when she finally turns up, explaining, "I had to go pee-pee!" After Penny proves her courage by shooing away a frightening dragonfly, Benny apologizes for his harsh words; the sibs share a "huggy" and then play pirates together. The simple language, brief sentences, and clean layout-with large text, easy-to-follow sequencing, and an uncluttered design-are appropriate for newly independent readers. The warm-hued panel pictures contain enough detail to provide visual clues and create a sense of place while briskly propelling the action forward. The characters have expressive features that reflect changing emotions, and the sibling relationship is sweetly and realistically portrayed. A fresh and fun choice for beginning readers-especially those discouraged by text-heavy pages-and for sharing aloud.-Joy Fleishhacker , School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
In this graphic mini-novel, a mouse in pirate dress fends off the overtures of his persistent little sister (garbed as a princess), then turns out to be more of a wuss than she is when it comes to bugs. Launching an easy-reader series with this tried-and-true narrative arc, this episode features two very young-looking sibs moving through an idyllic outdoorsy setting and, after a series of tiffs and temporary setbacks, sharing a make-up hug before embarking together on an imagined pirate adventure. Framed in well-separated panels of diverse shape, the art incorporates "plewds," "briffits" and other visual conventions from comics, along with a mix of dialogue balloons and boxed narrative snippets. Emergent readers should have no trouble following along-or (except perhaps for only children) identifying with the situation. (Easy reader. 5-6)

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.30(d)
GN90L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Hayes has written and illustrated over forty children’s books, including the extremely popular series of early readers Otto and Uncle Tooth, the classic Bear By Himself, and When the Wind Blew by Caldecott Medal-winning author Margaret Wise Brown.

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