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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Benny and Penny in Just Pretend: Toon Books Level 2by Geoffrey Hayes
Geoffrey Hayes thrills us with this hillarious tale of tiny cousins who discover a game that can't ever be ruined.
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
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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