Awards for Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!
2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winner
Kirkus Reviews Best of 2009 Continuing Series
Kirkus Reviews Best of 2009 Continuing Series
"A perfect example of a graphic novel designed just for young readers...Children will connect with the realistic dialogue and page-turning appeal of the story. They will be thrilled to enter the world of graphic novels."
--American Library Association
"Young children will love the graphic-novel format and the sweet, charming illustrations will draw them into the narrative."
--School Library Journal
"In the second comic book-style title to star brother and sister mice Benny and Penny, the fussy duo track down a mysterious 'new kid' who may have climbed over the fence into their yard and stolen Benny's pail (a 'no-no'). But when they meet the culprit (a mole in a polka-dot dress, green flippers and goggles), they re-evaluate the situation. Thought bubbles and dynamic expressions make the simple story come to life; early readers will easily identify the emotional states of the three characters and predict the playful outcomes."
"Sometimes it is easy to get carried away and to do things that we later regret. In the heat of the moment we make assumptions that are incorrect, and we even hurt other people’s feelings. In this delightful graphic novel (or comic book) style title, Geoffrey Hayes explores how such misunderstandings can happen. In addition to telling a meaningful, and often gently amusing story, the author gives readers a tale that is perfectly suited to children who are just beginning to learn how to read on their own."
--Through the Looking Glass
"For the complete, fascinating story on the creative people behind TOON BOOKS and the impetus for starting a line of graphic novels for beginning readers, check out my review from last year. With the release of a third Benny & Penny book, Benny & Penny and the Toy Breaker, I thought these books written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes deserved their own review. Also, TOON Books and Geoffrey Hayes have started Benny and Penny and Their Friends, a blog for kids where you can find comic to print and color and a weekly contest to fill in the speech/thought bubble from a new illustration by Hayes. Kids can leave comments on what they think the character is saying or thinking and Hayes will pick his favorite comments and post them. Finally, TOON has recently added a super cool new feature on their website, a Cartoon Maker! My son and I spent quite a bit of time making new pages from all the different TOON books that we love. Actually, it is so easy that my non-reading 5 year old could navigate the program himself.
In my house, all of the TOON Books are superb picture books that will some day become primers for my son when he is ready to read. I don't think that that can be said for many, if any beginning reader books. Beginning readers books are usually used read by emerging readers for that purpose alone. With the exception of the collection of TOON Books, Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books and Mo Willem's Elephant & Piggie series, I rarely if ever read a primer out loud at story time. But, all of these aforementioned are in heavy rotation at home and at the bookstore. What first drew me to Benny and Penny were the illustrations. The colorfully bright, softly shaded artwork reminded me of a cross between Beatrix Potter and the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons I watched as a kid. And, his pictures are filled with little details that kids will love, from the packing crate-pirate ship in the first book to the trail of broken toys in the third book, there is always something to seek out and inform the story that is unfolding.
On top of that, Hayes does a great job with his characters. Benny can be a bossy, know-it-all big brother and Penny can be a nosy, annoying little sister. But, the two can also be inventive, inquisitive, creative and always, by the end of the book at least, caring and connected. In the first book, the two only have to work things out between themselves. In Benny and Penny and the Big No-No, the two find themselves breaking some rules to find out where their missing toys are disappearing to, and make a new friend in the adventure.
Another aspect of Geoffrey Hayes' Benny and Penny books that I especially like is the setting. The siblings, thus far, are seen playing on their own in their backyard. Mom is never seen, but we know she is nearby and keeping an eye on the two because Benny calls out to her in the first book when he is trying to get rid of Penny by asking if it's her nap time. There is both a sense of security and a freedom to explore that Hayes creates in this backyard. There is a playhouse, a sandbox, a wading pool, a slide and a swing - things that will be familiar to most little kids. There is also a fence, a boundary that is sometimes crossed, but without major repercussions or danger.
In Benny and Penny and the Toy Breaker, a visit from Cousin Bo, the Toy Breaker, causes distress and hurt feelings for everyone. Benny and Penny rush to hide their favorite toy when they learn that Cousin Bo is coming over, but they are not fast enough. Bo manages to break a few toys and discovers the treasure map that Benny had been working on and threatens to destroy that as well. Benny and Penny try to reason with Bo and incorporate him into their play, but frustrations mount and Bo runs off, only to become stuck in a hole in the fence, things take a turn for the better."
--Books 4 Your Kids
"Learning to read is serious business. But that doesn't mean it can't be done in a fun way.
This year, for the first time, a graphic novel -- a/k/a comic book -- won the Theodor Geisel Award for the best book for beginning readers. The award, presented annually by the American Library Association, is named for the man better known as Dr. Seuss.
Because Dr. Seuss was always pushing the boundaries of what was possible for beginning readers, it seems fitting that this year's winner of the Geisel Award is 'Benny and Penny in the Big No-No,' a graphic novel written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes (TOON Books, $12.95).
Another graphic novel, 'Little Mouse Gets Ready' (TOON Books, $12.95), written and illustrated by Jeff Smith, creator of the classic 'Bone' graphic-novel series, won a Geisel Honor.
Here's a closer look at these books and the other 2010 Geisel Honor books:
-- Mouse siblings Benny and Penny sneak into the yard of their neighbor, a hedgehog named Melina, because they suspect she has stolen their pail. Inevitably, a spat ensues with Melina. Later, it turns out that the pail was in Benny and Penny's yard all the time and so Benny and Penny have to go back and apologize to Melina.
In 'Benny and Penny in the Big No-No' (ages 4-7), Hayes does a marvelous job of highlighting the kind of incidents that seem small to adults but loom so large to children.
Hayes' emotion-packed story is complemented by his expressive watercolor illustrations. The charm of Hayes' watercolors, particularly in the way he details the world of Benny and Penny, is reminiscent of the books of Beatrix Potter.
One more important note about 'Benny and Penny in the Big No-No,' as well as 'Little Mouse Gets Ready': Both books follow the TOON philosophy, which is to eliminate the frustration many beginning readers feel in trying to follow a story while sounding out the words. In most beginning readers, the text is paramount and the illustrations only provide strategic clues to the story.
In TOON books, however, the illustrations come first and, as such, allow readers to understand the entire story just by 'reading' the pictures. The text, meanwhile, provides important details to flesh out the story told through the pictures. For many beginning readers, this idea of 'pictures first' gives them the confidence to try to navigate the text because they already know what the story is about.
-- Little Mouse is so excited about getting to visit the barn. But first he thinks he needs to get dressed -- not an easy task for a young mouse. In 'Little Mouse Gets Ready' (ages 4-7), Smith tells a story that will be familiar to many young readers. But they won't expect the hilarious ending when, after all the work of getting dressed, Little Mouse discovers from his mother that mice aren't supposed to wear clothes after all.
Smith's story, complemented with simple, colorful illustrations, is infused with humor that will tickle the fancy of young children, like the moment when Little Mouse puts on his underpants and tells his readers to remember to 'get your tail in the tail hole!'
In addition to 'Little Mouse Gets Ready,' three other 2010 Geisel Honor books -- all part of established series -- were chosen:
-- 'I Spy Fly Guy!' (Cartwheel/Scholastic, $5.99, ages 5-8), written and illustrated by Tedd (cq) Arnold.
In this latest adventure in the hilarious 'Fly Guy' series, Fly Guy, a mosquito, and his human friend Buzz are playing hide-and-seek when disaster seems to strike. Fortunately, Fly Guy can take care of himself and reappears just when Buzz thinks all is lost. Arnold's simple but action-filled story will send young readers' hearts racing, and they'll love Arnold's big-eyed creatures, as well as the flashy cover that's become a 'Fly Guy' trademark.
-- 'Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends' (Houghton Mifflin, $15, ages 4-7), written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee.
Mouse and Mole are excited about trying to do some bird-watching. But it isn't as easy as it looks, and the friends have to work together to figure out a way to accomplish their goal. Young readers will enjoy Yee's gentle, realistic story, as well as his watercolor illustrations.
-- 'Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day' (Dial, $14.99, ages 5-8), written by Kate McMullan and illustrated by R.W. Alley.
Wagner is having a difficult April Fools' Day. Everyone is playing tricks on him until he visits the school nurse and finds a way to create his own April Fools' diversion. McMullan's story will have young readers rooting for Wagner, while Alley's illustrations emphasize the book's good humor."
"In Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!, the children are suspicious that their new neighbor has stolen Benny's pail, so they sneak into her yard even though they know it's a 'big no-no!' Through many misunderstandings, they learn to apologize and make a new friend. The simple text uses basic vocabulary and repetition, making it accessible to emerging readers. Young children will love the graphic-novel format and the sweet, charming illustrations will draw them into the narrative. Fans of Geoffrey Hayes's popular Benny and Penny: Just Pretend (Toon Books., 2008) won't be disappointed with this sequel."
--School Library Journal
"This is the second in the Spring 2009 releases from Francoise Mouly’s Toon Books line for younger readers. It’s also the first sequel in the line, following on from Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, saying that it was: 'yet another delightful little tale from Francoise Mouly’s Toon Books, told with deceptively simple layouts and delicately old-fashioned artwork.'
And it should come as no surprise to find out that I thought exactly the same of this second book, which has all the charm, all the sweet, old-fashioned sentiment of the first.
This time Benny and Penny, older brother and annoying younger sister, go investigating in their mysterious new neighbor’s back garden. Yes, they know it’s a No-No to go there but Benny thinks the neighbor’s taken his sand bucket and he’s going to get it back, No-No or not. So off they go, causing trouble and tears along the way as they discover that the neighbor might not be such a monster after all; in fact she might be a kid like them who just wants to be friends. And Benny’s bucket? Well, like any parent can tell you, it’s amazing how kids can forget where they left even the most important of things.
Just like the first Benny and Penny adventure this is full of lovely bits of fun between our two quarrelsome siblings, with the arguments ringing true each time between big brother and baby sister. And the clumsy and uncomfortable way that children make friends is played out perfectly between Benny and Penny and their new neighbor. It’s simple, yet a delight, with Hayes’ art firmly in the classic children’s illustration style.
The Toon Books library is expanding rapidly into an absolute treasure for any bookcase and will be read and re-read long after your children pass the young age that these books are aimed at. My 9 year old has them all on her shelf and, although she’s far too old for them in terms of her reading ability, she’s never going to be too old for them in terms of their charm and capability to delight."
"Artist, Geoffrey Hayes, has illustrated many other children’s books including Margaret Wise Brown’s, When the Wind Blew. But his latest efforts are on The Adventures of Benny and Penny series published by TOON Books in NYC. These charming handcrafted drawings give these stories a soft and sweet old fashioned feel and somewhat timeless quality to them.
Both stories, 'Just Pretend' and 'The Big No-No!' capture with great accuracy the quick and sometimes bitter conflicts young siblings deal with many times throughout any given day. I think it is this that makes these stories engaging for the kids. I think the kids actually connect with the characters in the stories, quite simply Benny and Penny speak directly to them often responding to situations exactly like a preschooler would, case in point, at one point Penny proclaims, 'I had to go pee-pee!'.
Then again, there are the Vaudevillian prat falls and other physical humor peppered throughout these stories get a chuckle out of them and keep them turning the pages.
It also helps that the panel-work of these junior comics is easy to follow, Hayes employs simple dialogue with proper doses of repetition and a well-chosen yet limited vocabulary to tell these simple stories.
It should be said that the publishers of this series, a small division of RAW Junior (husband and wife team, Francoise Mouly [*The New Yorker & Raw Books] and Art Spiegelman [*Maus]) have done a splendid job packaging these storybook/graphic mini-novels designed as primers for graphic novels and comics.
In summary, I would give these books two thumbs up. The timelessness of the pencil drawings and simple story make these Beginner Toon books very approachable for first time readers. They are labeled as age appropriate for 4-8 year old’s but feel they are well within reach for pre-readers (toddlers) as well as preschoolers."
"This delightful tale is a Toon Book, one of a series of award-winning early-reading comic books. Benny and Penny learn that a new kid lives next door, but know that they are not supposed to go over the fence. When Benny peeks over and discovers that the new kid has stolen his pail (or so he thinks) hostility brews and misunderstandings ensue. While the message of the story is kindness and friendship, as well as following rules, the true pleasure come from introducing a new genre to your youngster."
"When fractious mouse siblings Benny and Penny observe that a new neighbor has moved in next door, curiosity leads them into a big no-no: climbing the fence to see if perhaps the newcomer may have stolen Benny's missing pail. The neighbor has curious footprints; might it be a monster? Hayes psychologically develops the suburban jungle masterfully, with a keen understanding that, to the small child, next door is as exotic as Inner Mongolia. His sunny, detailed scenes tell the story in sequential panels, punctuated by the children's tearful outbursts, as stormy and temporary as summer showers. The illustrations provide just enough visual storytelling to allow emergent readers to focus on the dialogue, rendered in speech balloons, the standard vocabulary of preschoolers exactly in tune with readers' capabilities: 'You can't just TAKE stuff,' Benny says as he climbs; 'Uh-oh! This [mud pie] on the end is all broken!' exclaims the neighbor monster. Benny and Penny make agreeable protagonists, all sibling-squabbling when they're on their own but uniting against the depredations of the 'monster' and doing the right thing when it's called for."
"A new neighbor. A case of mistaken identity. Some mud. A new friend.
What I thought: Benny and Penny are such cute characters. They act exactly like brothers and sisters do. Loved the adventure they had in this book. Melinda (a mole?) is a great addition to the neighborhood. Not surprised that this won the Geisel Medal for 2010."
--What is Bridget Reading?
"Benny and Penny are a typical brother-sister pair, the type frequently found in picture books: Benny is older, a bit domineering, not terribly bright, but basically good-natured. Penny is smaller and smarter, and she tends to serve as his conscience. Both are mice, sort of; Geoffrey Hayes manages to make them believable both as children, when they are squabbling and scheming, and as mice, when they are scampering up a tree.
The plot of the story is pretty slight, but it has the back-and-forth, up-and-down quality of real life among the sandbox set. Benny and Penny are curious about their new neighbor, and when Benny is convinced that she stole his pail, they end up trespassing in her yard (the big no-no). Benny compounds things by blundering into her carefully made mudpies and destroying one. Convinced the neighbor is a monster, they hide in the tall grass when they hear footsteps. In fact, the “monster” is just a little mole, wearing swim fins and goggles, who is upset when she finds her mudpies destroyed. She tosses one away, it hits Benny, and a battle ensues. The story switches quickly between slapstick and tears, as the kids pelt each other with mudpies and eventually, just as in real life, someone gets hurt. Benny spots the pail and stalks off with it, but his bluster dwindles to sheepishness when he realizes that his pail was in his yard all along. After a bit of scheming, he simply goes back and apologizes, more mud is thrown, and everyone ends up friends in the end.
The nice thing about this book is that it models good behavior—apologizing after being a jerk—without being preachy. For a pair of mice, Benny and Penny are surprisingly human. Benny puts down Penny when they are alone but sticks up for her when they are threatened; Penny sticks up for Benny as well; and their neighbor is appropriately startled and angry when Benny and Penny bust in and start wrecking things—but she’s also quick to forgive when they apologize. There is also an unspoken theme of acceptance of diversity: Melina, the neighbor, is a mole, not a mouse, and Benny and Penny refer to her as a “monster,” but once they get to know her, they get along just fine.
Benny and Penny is more than just a picture book with word balloons; Hayes uses the full comics toolbox, often stretching and shaping his panels and breaking the borders to help tell his story in subtle ways. His art, on the other hand, is not the bright, flat-color art of cartoons but has a lovely, textured feel to it, pastel without being washed-out. In fact, it captures perfectly the feeling of hanging around in your back yard on a sunny summer afternoon, which makes this tale a delight to look at as well as to read."
--Graphic Novel Reporter
"Mom said a new kid moved in next door, so Benny does what any normal boy would do. Spy through a knothole in the backyard fence. And since Penny is a normal little sister, she wants to look too. Penny hopes the new kid is a girl because girls are nicer. Benny disagrees. 'Girls are cry-babies. I hope it’s a boy!' he says.
The debate ends, however, when Benny realizes his sandbox pail is missing. Again Benny does what any normal boy would do. Jump to conclusions. 'Maybe the new kid took it. Do you think the new kid climbed over the fence and came into our yard?'
Trying to get a closer look, Benny ends up falling into the neighbor’s yard. Penny follows. They discover big and scary footprints – monster footprints, they’re sure – and Benny’s missing pail. When Benny takes back his pail, there’s an encounter with the new kid. Mud is thrown, tears are shed, names are called, and a mistake is discovered.
Once again Toon-Books have published a winner – literally. Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! is the winner of the 2010 Geisel Medal for beginning readers. This is the second book in author Geoffrey Hayes’ Benny and Penny series. This simple graphic novel leads readers through a series of choices Benny and Penny make. Should they cross the fence into someone else’s yard? Should they take back what is rightfully theirs, even if it means facing a monster? Most importantly, can they admit a mistake?
But it’s not all choices and lessons. There’s laughs a-plenty. Penny sticks out her tongue at Benny and gives him razzberries. Benny SPLOPs in the mud, a board WHAPPs him in the face, and he is sprayed by a hose. 'YEOW!'
Beginning readers will enjoy Benny and Penny in all their adventures including the first book in the series, Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, and the upcoming Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker."
--Help Readers Love Reading!
"In celebration of Max's and Toby's report cards, Hatcher and I ventured down to The Book Beat (a local indie book store with a fabulous children's collection) to buy them each a new book. I would normally have them come and be a part of the selection process, but I wanted the books to be a surprise... it is so thrilling to walk in to dinner and see a new book on your plate!
Anyway, for Toby we bought BENNY AND PENNY IN THE BIG NO NO!, written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes, which (I didn't realize until yesterday) won the 2010 Geisel award. Toby loved the other Benny and Penny book (see Toby's recommendations) and has been looking for this one. It was checked out of the library when we went to look for it the other day."
--Three Boys And Books
"Benny And Penny in The Big No-No by Geoffrey Hayes is an award winning book for children in preschool and up! This adorable book about mouse siblings Benny and Penny follows their adventures as they suspect their new neighbor of being a theif! This book teaches all about making false accusations and the apologies that must come afterwards!"
"Last year, I added a number of 'primary' graphic novels to my classroom library. Among them were a few that Mary Lee mentioned in her post about Graphic Novels for our Youngest Readers. This year, I am noticing how much the kids are enjoying the graphic novel basket. In fact, I have had requests from many of the kids to keep adding to our collection. One boy mentioned that I needed to buy the second book in the Benny and Penny series. (I had no idea that there was a second in the series.) He then shared how he found it at the public library with his mom. He suggested I get it for our room. So, I did!
Benny and Penny and the Big No-No! is the story of brother, Benny, and sister, Penny Mouse. In this adventure, Benny and Penny go searching for a lost pail. They find footprints and decide to search over the fence and in the new kid's yard. They find mud pies, more footprints and eventually a new friend named Melina. This short adventure is full of little kid silliness, teasing, apologies and laughter. Check it out!"
"This is more traditional storybook fare, done in a classic watercolor, "cute animals" style that comes complete with a heartwarming moral about the importance of not jumping to conclusions. To wit: Benny and penny have learned there's a new kid who moved in next door, but don't know anything about him or her. When Benny can't find his pail he immediately assumes the new neighbor took it and he and his sister trespass in an attempt to get it back. Trouble ensues, but is speedily resolved with lots of "I'm sorry's" and "let's be friends" to go around.
What I like about the Benny and Penny books is that they resemble actual kids, not just in their speech and demeanor but in the way they interact with each other. They're very recognizable siblings which will no doubt appeal to a lot of young readers with similar family structures."
--Comic Book Resources
"Geoffrey Hayes’ THE BIG NO-NO! is his second Toon Book that follows the adventures of two little mice; Penny and her jerky brother Benny.
In the first pages we see Benny in all of his belligerent glory. Anything his sister likes Benny treats contemptuously for no discernible reason other than plain meanness. When Penny blithely tells him she hopes their new neighbor is a girl, he pulls out that wonderful old notion that girls are all 'crybabies.' It’s a wonder Penny still has such a sweet personality what with having to deal with her brother’s rotten attitude all the time.
When their sand pail goes missing, Benny immediately assumes their new neighbor has stolen it. He insists that he and Penny should commit a 'big no-no'
and climb the fence to get it back. When they get there Penny is delighted to see their neighbor has assembled a collection of mud pies with flowers on top. Benny, of course, could care less and snatches up what he thinks is their pail. But when the new kid - a little girl mole - returns, things get ugly. Thanks in no small part to Benny’s fear-mongering, a few simple misunderstandings escalate into an all out brawl. Everyone pelts each other with clods of dirt before the siblings escape over the fence. Now it should be noted that Benny at least acts honorably here and defends his sister from attack. Once home, Penny finds the missing pail in their own yard. For a second time Benny decides to do the right thing and return the pail. The kids actually get to know each other after this and become friends.
Then the most remarkable thing happens. After hurting himself with a rake Benny cries like a banshee. The mole laughs and calls him a crybaby (oh the irony). But Penny steps up and defends her jackass brother. Even after all of his derision, even in the face of such poetic justice, Penny acts with love and charity. What a gal.
Geoffrey Hayes is an excellent fit for the Toon line. The gentle line work has a warm traditional feel. Kids who dig the art of Beatrix Potter or Cyndy Szekeres would probably respond to this immediately. This isn’t his first Toon book and I hope he makes more. Maybe a comic called PENNY AND HER NEW FRIEND GO OUT TO PLAY AND THEY LEAVE BENNY AT HOME BECAUSE HE’S AN ANNOYING JERK. I’ve got plenty more good ideas like that, Geoff, give me a call."
--Nerds With Kids
"Benny and Penny learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions when they blame the new girl next door for committing a big no-no. This story is adorably drawn and well told. Again, this book would definitely appeal to the kindergarten set."
--The Bluestocking Society
"In this delightful sequel to Benny and Penny in Just Pretend (2008), the mouse siblings have a new neighbor whom they suspect might be a thief, because Benny's pail is missing. Then they look over the fence into the backyard, they see strange footprints. Then Benny falls into the yard, Penny follows, and they find a pail, mudpies, and a hedgehog girl wearing swim goggles and fins on her feet. They accuse each other, the hedgehog girl flings mud at the others, and the two mice go back to their yard--where Penny finds Benny's pail in their sandbox. Now they have to go back and apologize. Young readers will recognize the misunderstanding and the bad first impressions people will sometimes make as Benny and Penny--and Melina-- learn a lesson about making friends. Hayes draws charming little animal children with highly expressive faces, and he uses great dialogue, easy-to-follow panels, and fun sound effects; children will repeat his muddy 'slop!' with gusto."
"First introduced in Geoffrey's Hayes Just Pretend, mice siblings Benny and Penny quickly earned rare reviews from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist which called Hayes' story of a sibling rivalry, 'a charmer that will invite repeated readings.' With The Big No-No! Hayes re-captures much of the same appeal from his early reader comic book while tackling new issues like wrong impressions and fear of the unknown."
"I am terrible at telling true stories because I have an unnatural aversion to exaggerating. I say this so you will understand that what I say here is the 99.9% truth.
I wanted to write a review of the TOON Books comic for the new readers Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes, but my daughter won't let me.
I got a copy of this upcoming release from TOON Books in the mail a few days ago and it has been in my four year old rooms ever since. I have read it at least a dozen times now. I tried sneaking it out this evening to help me with this review, but she wanted to read before going to sleep so I had to sneak back.
I like the cute characters (I love how the little platypus girl looks as she is preparing to throw a mudball... I can't remember her name and I don't have the book, remember?) and the effective storytelling. The smallish comic panels would make it a hard book to read to a group of kids, but it is perfect for reading with one or two kids gathered around you.
That's all I can say without having the book so I will quote my daughter:
This is my favorite book ever.—Mariah Tingley, age 4, reviewer for ComicsinTheClassroom.net
That sums its up perfectly!
This book is due out on May 5, 2009 and would be perfect for grades one and lower (on the other hand, some of my grade threes last year really enjoyed the first book - even though the reading level was not challenging for them, they still liked the art and story)."
--Comics In The Classroom
In this delightful sequel to Benny and Penny in Just Pretend (2008), the mouse siblings have a new neighbor whom they suspect might be a thief, because Benny's pail is missing. Then they look over the fence into the backyard, they see strange footprints. Then Benny falls into the yard, Penny follows, and they find a pail, mudpies, and a hedgehog girl wearing swim goggles and fins on her feet. They accuse each other, the hedgehog girl flings mud at the others, and the two mice go back to their yard--where Penny finds Benny's pail in their sandbox. Now they have to go back and apologize. Young readers will recognize the misunderstanding and the bad first impressions people will sometimes make as Benny and Penny--and Melina-- learn a lesson about making friends. Hayes draws charming little animal children with highly expressive faces, and he uses great dialogue, easy-to-follow panels, and fun sound effects; children will repeat his muddy 'slop!' with gusto."
"In Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! Geoffrey Hayes creates a backyard adventure that young readers can relate to -- the brother and sister team of Benny and Penny investigate a new neighbor's yard in search of Benny's lost pail. They think they find the missing pail and jump to conclusions about their new neighbor, but eventually they discover their mistake, apologize and make a new friend. Along the way the siblings squabble, but stand up for each other when it counts.
Hayes makes his rodent characters come alive with a wide variety of expressions that draw the readers into the story. The restricted vocabulary makes this volume a very useful tool for emerging readers, while the fluidly rendered narrative with its occasional flashes of dynamic slapstick humor will delight all sorts of kids and introduce them to the delights of visual storytelling whether they are being read to or reading themselves. 4 out of 5 stars."
"Interview with Geoffrey Hayes, Award Winning Author and Illustrator
If you haven’t seen Toon Books — go now and collect them all. They are hardback comic book called Toon Books and they’re for early readers. They’re darn cute, beautifully illustrated and exceptionally well plotted.
This year Geoffrey Hayes’ book, The Big No-No!, won the prestigious Theodor Seuss Geisel Award given annually by the Association for Library Services to Children to the author of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in the United States.
Yes, it is that good.
Let me just say that I have read so many terrible early readers that it’s made me consider trying to write my own. (I haven’t and will leave that to the professional fiction writers but I’m just sick of poor quality early readers.)
But, (insert angels singing here) . . . here came this amazing, beautiful, engaging book – The Big No-No! with a lovely message of friendship. Not only that, the characters really seem like actual kids that I’ve known.
Penny assumes that because her pail is missing, the new neighbor must have taken it and she is MAD. She goes next door to fetch her pail, throws a few mud pies at the monster neighbor and returns home only to find her pail in her own sandbox. (Sound like anyone you know?)
Penny apologizes to her neighbor and they both get a laugh when Benny slips and falls in the mud. Nothing more funny that a brother getting dirty and embarrassed!
Book Play: Play with mud. Make a mud pool for your toys, mud pies for your friends or a mud kingdom for yourself. All you need is a hose and dirt and you’re ready. Just make sure you can hose off before going back inside!
Colorado Parent: I love your newest Toon book, Benny and Penny. Tell me about why you made these books specifically for early readers.
GH: I had already created the characters, and because of their ages, knew that the stories had to be either picture books or early readers. I was toying with the idea of doing a comic book reader (although not necessarily with Benny and Penny) when Francoise Mouly got in touch with me and said that she was developing a series of comic readers and wanted me to be a part of it.
CP: Why did you choose to do Toon books / cartoons for Benny and Penny?
GH: Comics have always been my first love. I’m really drawn to sequential art. In fact, when working out ideas for regular children’s books I usually start with thumbnail sketches with word bubbles. It helps me get a better sense of the personalities and actions. I wrote the first Benny and Penny story as a portfolio piece and decided to do it as a comic for my own amusement. At the time, their names were Tyler and Bella. I showed this to Franscoise, and together we decided that it would make a good Toon book.
CP: When children read Benny and Penny, or any cartoon book, how is the reading experience different or the same?
When children read a cartoon book, they initially read the words with the pictures working in the background to subliminally enhance and fill out the story. Then the reader is compelled to re-read to gather information from the pictures they may have missed on the first go round. When doing so, they also re-read the words. Since the art and text are so intrinsically connected, children read on two levels, visual and textual.
CP: Where did the idea for Benny and Penny come from?
I was doing some quick sketches one day and drew a picture of a little mouse pushing his baby sister into a laundry hamper to get rid of her. It made me laugh. I thought it was a great germ of an idea. In the final story, the action was moved outside and the laundry hamper became a small tool shed.
CP: What is your best advice for parents to get their kids reading?
Not to be too strict about it, or reading can turn into a chore. The parent should allow the child to read what they are drawn to, within reason, of course. Obviously they should censor anything they find morally objectionable, but having rules about what constitutes “good” reading vs. “bad” can hinder the child’s development. If a child is drawn to baseball cards, encourage them; gaming magazines, encourage them. Once they gain a facility for reading, they will graduate to material with more substance.
CP: Anything else you’d like to share?
Because we live in a visual age (movies, computer icons, Internet) all children seem to take instantly to comics or Graphic Novels. Children with learning disabilities are more apt to read below their age level because the comics medium prevents the stories from seeming too “babyish.” Therefore, comics can be a wonderful tool for improving children’s literacy.
CP: Thank you so much Geoffrey Hayes for sharing with us. Congratulations on your recent award, we wish you continued success in all your future books. (And thank you from all the early reader readers for writing such a delightful early reader book!)"
"The American Library Association’s awards, announced at the organization’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston Monday, included two major kudos for graphic novel publisher Toon Books and an award for Stitches.
Toon’s Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!, by Geoffrey Hayes, took the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for most distinguished beginning reader book; Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith, is a Geisel Honor Book.
Two of Toon’s three releases last year were honored by the award, an impressive track record. Last year, Toon’s Stinky was a Geisel Honor book (see '"Stinky"' Named Geisel Honor Book').
Toon editorial director Francoise Mouly expressed satisfaction at the ratification of the concept of comic material for emerging readers. When Mouly and Art Spiegelman started Toon in 2008, 'nobody had ever published comics for kids that young before,' Mouly said. 'The Geisels and all the other awards the Toon books have gotten are deeply gratifying.'
Norton’s Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small, received an Alex Award as one of the ten best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.
Toon is going back to press on Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! and moving up the publication date of Hayes’ new Benny and Penny book, The Toy Breaker, to April 6th. Little Mouse Gets Ready is also going back to press and will be available on the same date."
"There’s something very comforting about the absolute best children’s books; even if they’re brand new, they can somehow make you feel like you’re back in your childhood, reading a book that you’d loved way back then. Over the years, a lot of children’s books have come across my desk, and ones from Toon Books (with their synthesis of children’s books and comic books) have been some of my favorites. With Geoffrey Hayes’s Benny and Penny: The Big No-No!, once again the rest of the world stopped as I sat down to read a truly excellent children’s book.
Benny and his little sister Penny are playing in their back yard, but Benny has heard exciting news: there’s a new child living next door! Peeking through the knothole in the fence doesn’t show anyone there, and all might have been forgotten until Benny realizes that his pail is missing. Did the new kid next door come and steal it? When Benny decides to try and find his pail, though, he ends up in a scary situation, one with… a monster???
In both Hayes’s previous book (Benny and Penny: Just Pretend) and this new installment, Hayes really brings his two title characters to life in a way that makes you feel like you’re reading about actual children. The almost casual nature in which Benny and Penny get into a disagreement, complete with Benny making younger sister Penny burst into tears is a perfect example of that. You can see Benny’s temper rising as he can’t find his pail, even as Penny tries to be helpful. When he grabs onto her watering can and starts shouting, both of them seem almost hysterical; Benny because he’s a little kid who can’t find his toy, Penny because she’s being yelled at by her big brother. Benny’s response, 'Why do you have to cry all the time? I was just asking!' is the perfect half-apology, too. He knows he’s done something wrong, but he can’t bring himself to actually say that he’s sorry—he’s still worked up over his missing pail—so he deflects the blame in a dismissive manner, even though he’s trying to move on.
The whole book plays to Hayes’s strength as a writer, getting inside the head of his fictional mice children. As an adult you can see where Benny’s leaps of logic are doomed for failure, but at the same time you can see just how Benny comes to those wrong conclusions. His fear of the 'monster' next door is great, and I love how Penny is young enough to be afraid of committing a 'no-no' even as Benny brashly pushes past those parental warnings. Even when Benny finally figures out what’s really going on, he still feels like such a kid; I love how he backs away slowly, even as he’s trying to make things right. And of course, it’s Penny who has to issue the actual apology.
Best of all, though? Hayes’s art is nothing short of adorable. Benny and Penny are such cute little mice, and so expressive too. From Benny’s disgusted face as he shouts, 'Mud! Pooie!' to his angry look when he tries to get back his pail, he’s hard to not love how well Hayes draws them. I especially love the addition of Melina; from her perky little nose to her goggles and flippers, I can’t help but be charmed by her every time she appears. Really, when you’ve got a mole in a yellow and red polka-dotted frilly bathing suit, how can you go wrong? Hayes’s art is gorgeous and something that I think everyone will love.
Benny and Penny: The Big No-No! is another charming and attractive arrival from Toon Books. From the smooth cover stock and patterned book spine, to the interior pages themselves, it’s a beautiful finished product. It’s definitely a book to be proud of as a publisher, or to cherish as a reader. Like so many other books from Toon Books, I’ll be giving lots of copies of Benny and Penny: The Big No-No! as gifts to younger readers. I know, though, that the parents reading along with their children are going to absolutely taken with it too. I know I was."
--Read About Comics
"The brother and sister mice are back in their second book, where they're curious about their new neighbor.
The two, although mice, act just like kids. Benny's impatient with his younger sister, thoughtless about her wants and blaming her for his own forgetfulness. His pail is missing, and he jumps to the conclusion the new kid must have something to do with it. Even though leaving their year is a big no-no, they venture out and after many misunderstandings, eventually make a new friend in the hedgehog next door. Along the way, there's plenty of mud, both splashed in and thrown.
The drawings are simply lovely, beautiful to get lost in, and softly colored. They have a good sense of both action, capturing just the right moment, and character. A wonderful read."
--Comics Worth Reading
"I haven't read the first Benny and Penny book, but the title characters of Benny and Penny in the Big No-No are an adorable pair of brother and sister mice. The dynamic of big brother/little sister is clear from the beginning as the two sneak into the neighbor's yard to steal back Benny's pail. Or at least what they believe to be Benny's pail. Instead, they make an enemy--but then a friend--of their new neighbor, a little possum named Melina. The playground conflict of judging someone before you know them is sweetly and simply presented. Hayes' soft, colored-pencil artwork recalls a lot of the children's books I read as a kid--Beatrix Potter and Mercer Mayer are obvious ones, but there is some of the wholesome nostaliga of Tasha Tudor. This will become many children's favorite book."
"Brother and sister Benny and Penny, two little mice, return in their second book, another of the excellent Toon Book easy readers. In this story, the mice learn that a new family has moved next door, and that they have a child. The two are dying to get a glimpse of the new kid through the fence, but they can't see anything. They know that it's a 'big no-no' to climb over the fence and sneak into someone's yard, but when Benny discovers that his pail is missing, and Penny wonders aloud if the new kid took it, Benny is over the fence and into the yard in a flash.
Misunderstandings, false accusations, hurt feelings and a mud fight ensue, and as events play out, it becomes clear that friendship can spring up in the most unexpected ways.
I adored the first Benny and Penny book, Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, and I love the concept of the easy reader Toon Book series. The books are very well made, with thick pages and sturdy spines, and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. The Toon Books at my library are incredibly popular, rarely staying on the shelf for more than a day or two before they're snatched up by another interested reader.
This particular book tells a story that children will easily relate to. Older and younger siblings alike will identify with the relationship between Benny and Penny, who are friends and playmates but do not always see eye to eye. They will get caught up in the story, which is told in simple, readable words for emerging readers - and has all the visual cues to explain those words that any new reader could desire - because it is not just a series of words from a word list arranged in a 'kind of' story, like so many beginning readers are. It is exciting, funny, and even involves a little mystery - just what did happen to Benny's pail?
I brought this book home from the library yesterday (it won this year's Geisel Award, and I hadn't read it yet!), and I happened to set it down on the kitchen table. Both my children (in the third and fifth grades) are well past easy readers at this point, but each one picked it up and read it through without any prompting on my part - and both said how cute and fun it is. That is the magic of graphic novels - kids pick them up willingly (as do many adults) - and what's better than graphic novels targeted at the younger set, to make the books even more appealing? Another thing I like about these books is that for kids who are behind their peers in reading skill development, it is less off-putting or embarrassing to read this kind of book around their friends than something clearly targeted at much younger children - their friends will want to read this too, just as my kids did, simply because it's such a good book. Hooray for Toon Books!"
--Books & Other Thoughts