Reviews of Patrick in a
Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories
★"Hayes, the Geisel Award-winning cartoonist of Benny and Penny in the Big No No! (2009) and two other Benny and Penny books, offers emerging readers another beginning comic book that's pure charm. Three short stories follow wee bear Patrick as he picnics with his mother, gets the better of nap-time, and stands up to a bully. The bears are possessed of an endearing physicality, as though they could bounce right off the page and into plush, squeezable life, and Hayes displays a keen awareness of the volatility of a child's moods -- which flip from manic bursts of energy and hilarity to touching tenderness -- and inexhaustible ability to channel pure focus into a new activity practically every other minute. In the title story, Patrick darts around dynamically composed and crayon-colored pages, moving readers' eyes up and down the page and left and right as he scares birds, chases a balloon, inspects a ladybug, and plays with a toy boat in the stream before splashing his way home through every puddle he can find. The rich vocabulary talks to kids on their own level, but will also gently push their reading abilities. Endpapers offer parents and teachers tips for reading comics with kids, and ideas on using them to turn reading time into a fun, participatory activity. Sure to be a favorite in any kids' collection."
"Hayes’ Benny and Penny in the Big No-No won the 2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and the others in the Benny and Penny series have proved to be a hit with kids, so I was pretty excited when his newest Toon Book came out. Hayes published a number of thePatrick books in the 1980s, so it’s nice that his work is being introduced to a new generation. While it can be hard to do a story collection in a mere 32 pages, Hayes succeeds admirably. The main tale shows the adventures that occur while planning a simple picnic. Readers also meet the bully Big Bear, who is the antagonist of the third story. In between is a quick nap-time story which both parents and kids will see the humor in. Kids will find Patrick easy to identify with and will laugh at his frank statements and his attempts to avoid Big Bear. Adults will appreciate the sweetness of the tales and everyone will enjoy Hayes’ softly colored, highly detailed artwork which joyfully spills across the pages."
--School Library Journal
"Geoffrey Hayes, author of the award-winning Benny and Penny series of easy-reader graphic novels, has a knack for telling warm, funny stories that show an expert attention to the childhood details. Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and other stories features a series of short, stand-alone stories that follow little teddy bear Patrick as he goes on a picnic with his mother, endures the tyranny of nap time and stands up to Big Bear, the local bully.
Hayes’ soft colored pencil illustrations perfectly complement the cozy stories. As with Benny and Penny, Hayes balances out sweetness with humor and a nice sense of mischief. Unique lettering and word balloons help to convey the meaning and expression of certain phrases, making it a fun book to read aloud.
While some of Hayes’ other work deals with how children relate to each other, Patrick mostly focuses on the title character. The only other kid is the bully, Big Bear. I love the design of this character, who is both menacing and childish at the same time. He’s a big mean fuzzy teddy bear who makes trouble for Patrick but poses no real threat.
Page layouts are designed to aid young readers, with characters often speaking to each other as they meander through paths down and across the pages. This not only makes it easy to figure out the correct sequence of the word balloons, but also keeps the story lively and engaging.
Easy-readers in graphic novel form are well suited to meet the needs of different types of readers. This would be a good book to read aloud to small children, but I imagine this is also a good book for emerging readers to feel confident flipping through and choosing where they want to start. The detailed yet clear illustrations also provide readers with a lot of additional information to pore over, so it stands up well to multiple re-readings."
--No Flying No Tights
"‘Patrick in a Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories’ follows a young, determined bear as he goes on a splendid picnic and takes a trip to the store. The text is manageable for a beginning reader, as each panel contains around one sentence or expression--and there are plenty of sight words. The illustrations are amusing and easy for the reader’s eye to follow."
--Neil Secor; Beaumont Library
"I am a big fan of Geoffrey Hayes' Benny and Penny series of comics for younger readers. Sure, they're meant for first and second graders, but even as an adult I've found a lot to love about the books; the graceful storytelling, the beautiful art, the funny jokes. While I knew that Hayes has quite a few other books under his belt, I hadn't heard of his Patrick series before now. Fortunately, with his new Patrick: A Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories, that problem has been fixed.
Reading Patrick, it made me almost instantly flash back to classic books from my childhood like Frog and Toad All Year, only in this case of course the book isn't just prose with illustrations, but an actual comic. The little bear Patrick comes across to me as a true depiction of a child: a mixture of playful, stubborn, and silly. In the main story, 'A Teddy Bear's Picnic,' we get to see all sides of his personality. He's scared when the bully Big Bear shows up, he's goofy as he plays, and he's able to turn on a dime from one subject or emotion to the next. I appreciated how Hayes shows that last one, because it's so true when it comes to children. Patrick's mother takes it all in stride, comforting him after a confrontation with Big Bear, but not coddling him either. His tearful complaint that the now-gone red balloon was his favorite color is accepted, but also not made too big a deal from his mother, who instead gently notes that he might feel better after they eat. A lot of Patrick is about dealing with adversity and disappointment, and it's good to see a book quietly slip in lessons for its younger readers in a way that feels unobtrusive, and not preachy.
The other stories are fun, too. The two page spread of 'Patrick Has a Nap' will ring true to both children and adults alike, with the joys and wonders of trying to put a child down that clearly does not actually want to nap. More interesting, though, is 'Patrick and Big Bear' with Patrick finally having to confront the bully that scared him earlier in the volume. I like that Hayes lets Patrick get scared rather than automatically be tough and confident; it makes him a character that children can relate to much easier, and it also makes his eventual turn-around that much better. Like all of Hayes' stories, it has a perfect rise and fall of action, and it's a reminder why he's such a good storyteller. (On a side note, the idea of a 'Candy, Cookies, and Comic Books' store warms my heart. And stomach.)
Patrick is drawn in a soft, sweet manner; I love the gentle colors, like the pale blue in the stream's water, or the green shading on the grass. Like so many kids, Patrick's emotions are on his sleeve. When he's sad, his little face scrunches up into a tight ball and the tears flow, while his excitement is easily seen as well through his big smiles and wide-eyed looks. Hayes gets to draw a little action in Patrick too; Patrick running away from Big Bear is fast and zippy, and Hayes makes Big Bear look intimidating without ridiculously over-bulked or monstrous.
Patrick: A Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories is another home run for Hayes. His stories are cute without being saccharinely sweet, and there are times when I'm pretty sure that adults enjoy his books as much as the children they're aimed at. As a gateway to reading comics, you can't go wrong with giving Hayes' books for Toon Books to a young, impressionable reader. Just not my copy. I may give away a lot of the children's books I come across, but Hayes' are always a keeper."
--Read About Comics
"This emerging reader graphic novel by the Geisel Award–winning Hayes follows a young anthropomorphic bear named Patrick Brown and his gentle, laugh-filled adventures with his loving mother and father. In the first story, Patrick and his mother go on a picnic, and Patrick makes various discoveries regarding blowing up balloons and bugs, and sailing a toy boat. In the second story, Patrick confronts the Big Bear bully with wits rather than violence. These two tales are interspersed with one-pagers depicting such topics as Patrick's disdain for nap time. Very young readers will have no trouble following Hayes's gorgeous artwork, and the eager-to-please Patrick sets a good example. Readers will find the most humor in the expressions, as when the mama bear is less than thrilled with Patrick's decision to jump in puddles. Ages 5–7."
"Another home run for Hayes...As a gateway to reading comics, you can't go wrong with giving Hayes' books for TOON Books to a young, impressionable reader."
--Read About Comics
"Toon Books are easy reader graphic novels for those kids that just 'can't get into reading.' They’re fun and easy to read for Kindergarten to Grade 3. In the back of every Toon Book there are tips for parents and teachers on how to read comics for kids as well as how the graphic novels are leveled (three levels broken down by the amount of words, amount of characters, and content). This particular title is Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes.
Patrick is an adorable little Pre-K Teddy Bear who adores his parents and loves to get into a bit of mischief. There are two longer stories and one short vignette that both parents and children will enjoy reading. Mom’s, in particular, will connect with Patrick’s mother as she deals with an excited kid heading out for a picnic. I love the thunder in her eyes when Patrick runs ahead of her and scares the birds. The 'PATRICK!' is something I have heard myself saying to my own child as we were out and about having a fun day.
The drawings are very 'Saturday morning cartoon'-esque and the panels are easy for younger readers to follow. They aren’t too convoluted, and the word bubbles and dialogue are obvious. There are very few characters for children to need to remember, and one of the main threads in this story deals with a bully who Patrick ends up outsmarting, a scenario that many children will have to face throughout their school years.
I hope that this will be a new trend in the leveled readers, heading towards a mixture of the older types of readers (Dick and Jane, Fly Guy, Biscuit) and the new graphic novels. This will allow all learning styles to have a book to turn to. Personally, I think this would be a great addition to our children’s repertoire of learning tools."
"This is a very early graphic novel reader. First graders will be able to handle the text, especially using the visual cues. Patrick is really a brat most of the time, but his mama obviously loves him and tries to entertain him anyway. When they go on a picnic, he’s really not likable, but in the other stories he is. Maybe this could be discussed, in that we all have good and bad days, and he was evidently having a hyper, obnoxious day when they went to the park. Although I didn’t like him, I think six-year-olds will."
--Tuscon Unified School District
"Geoffrey Hayes has developed some lovely comics for beginning readers starring his loveable little bear, Patrick. I remember Patrick from the book Patrick Eats His Dinner. My son, who is now 35, was only 4 at the time and we both loved the song Patrick sang as he avoided eating his peas. Something about 'little green balls of smooshy poison', I think. The out of print editions available on Amazon start at $299.
BUT you can read about Patrick in a brand new series of books starting with Patrick in A Teddy Bear's Picnic and other stories, put out by TOON BOOKS, an imprint of Candlewick Press. At $12.95, this book is a bargain. It's at least twice as big as Patrick's first outing with the peas and it includes several sweet, funny, exciting, but ultimately reassuring, stories about Patrick, his Ma, his Daddy, a bully called Big Bear, naps, parks and a trip - all by himself - to the store. BTW, Big Bear is no match for Patrick in the end. Hayes is right on target with Patrick's view of the world, concerns and talents. Beginning Readers will identify with Patrick right away! The graphics have that soft edged look and bright but not glaring colors that Patrick fans have always loved. I am so glad Patrick is back, just in time for new generations of young readers."
"Geoffrey Hayes, 2010 Geisel Award winner for Benny and Penny in the Big No-No!, is back with a new Toon Book featuring Patrick, a new character that beginning readers will love. But while the book and the characters might be new, the enjoyment that Hayes and Toon Books brings to young readers is exactly the same.
The first story, A Teddy Bear's Picnic, features Patrick enjoying a picnic in the park and his mother trying to keep up with him. Birds get chased, balloons get popped, boats get sailed, and bugs get away. Even rain can't spoil Patrick's fun. He finds puddles and wet clothes, and Ma finds a way to make their picnic happen despite the rain.
In the second story, Patrick and Big Bear, Patrick meets the local bully who popped his red balloon on the picnic. Patrick is sent to the store for cookies, but Big Bear threatens to take away his dollar. Thanks to some simple advice from Ma, however, Patrick stands up to Big Bear. In the end when Ma asks, 'So, did you run into Big Bear?' Patrick responds, 'No! He ran into ME!'
After both of Patrick's adventures, Ma says he needs a nap. Picnics and cookie-runs can wear a boy out! These two nap stories, each only a page or two long, express the feelings of every child still stuck with nap time. Nap! Why?
Young readers will need to use all their story reading skills to find success. While the text is not overly difficult (Level 2 or Grades 1-2 according to Toon Books' three-leveled scale for their books), Patrick's actions move quickly, forcing readers to frequently make inferences between frames. Readers need to look closely within each frame as well. Patrick's personality is on display, not in what he says, but in his facial expressions, his puddle jumps, and his speedy movements.
The book also offers parents and teachers advice on reading comics with kids. Several tips are included like using a finger to follow the action, how to make the story come alive with sound effects and role sharing, asking questions, and watching the action in the panels.
But in the end it's not advice for grown-ups or Toon Books' leveled system or their numerous online resources that make Patrick in A Teddy Bear's Picnic a great addition for beginning readers. It's the engaging characters and fun stories that will bring readers back for reread after reread."
--Help Readers Love Reading
"Hayes, the Geisel Award–winning creator of the Benny and Penny stories (Benny and Penny in the Big No-No, 2009, etc.) introduces a new character in this collection of short graphic stories. Patrick, a young bear, goes on a picnic with his mother that ends up taking place inside due to rain, learns to deal with a bully and takes—or doesn't take—a nap. The vocabulary is just right, featuring many of the sight words that kids in kindergarten and first grade are expected to know, and the softly colored cartoon format is appealing. The fact that it's a collection makes it even more accessible—ambitious readers can tackle the whole thing at once; those just starting out can read one at a time. However, the content seems a bit young for the intended audience; those ready to read this are long past naptime, and Patrick's best friend still seems to be his mother, making this perhaps a better choice for kids learning to read at an especially young age rather than the early-elementary crowd. For the most part, though, the format, vocabulary and art work well here to encourage kids to read on their own and have fun doing it.
(Graphic early reader. 4-6)"
"Hayes has previously created three other books in the Toon line, all starring brother and sister mice Benny and Penny, Just Pretend, The Big No-No!, and The Toy Breaker. Here, he returns to his earlier children’s book character, Patrick, a baby bear.
There are two longer stories and two interstitials about nap-time in this volume. In the first tale, Patrick and his mother go on a picnic, and not even the bully Big Bear can spoil the day. There’s sailing a boat on the river and flowers and hide-and-seek, all classic, comfortable family activities. The second is another showdown with Big Bear, as he tries to steal the cookies Patrick’s mom sent him to buy. The solution Patrick finds is traditional, if based a little on wishful thinking.
The characters are adorable, a cross between koalas and stuffed animals. The clearly warm feeling between mother and son should be touching and reassuring to young readers."
--Comics Worth Reading
"This graphic presentation has short sentences, repetition, minimal characters, and one to four panels per page. Colored-pencil and pen-and-ink cartoon illustrations provide a detailed look at the bears' world–from the mirrored reflection in their tiny cottage to tiny creatures along garden paths. Figures and objects spill over cell borders without restriction onto the page. The title story follows Patrick and his mother as they plan and prepare for a picnic. The cub's actions are typically those of a young child–he is curious, imaginative, easily pleased or disappointed, and adventurous. Emotions are clearly read on faces: readers can see Patrick as he is stubborn or joyful, but his mother's face occasionally shows frustration and anger, not understanding. This collection also includes a bully, Big Bear, who pops Patrick's balloon in one story and demands his cookies in another. Patrick finally stands up to him and calls forth his inner 'dragon' for courage, but resorts to name-calling after the confrontation. Speech bubbles and easily followed illustration prompts remain good teaching tools for emerging readers, but this title also calls for discussion of how Patrick handles his own feelings and actions. A general purchase for most libraries."
--Mary Elam, Plano ISD, Texas; School
"In 2008, French artist and designer Françoise Mouly and Pulitzer Prize-winning author/illustrator Art Spiegelman launched a new series of beginning readers. It was a promising idea, and over the years I’ve watched new titles with interest and talked it up to fellow librarians and parents. I even blogged about the series’ launch in 2008, but I think the series works so well that I now take this opportunity, at the release of a brand-new April title, to mention it again.
TOON Books (a Candlewick imprint) are technically what are called emerging reader titles, but the difference is that these are comic books designed for beginning readers ages four and up, books they can read themselves. The books are divided into three categories: Level One, or beginning comics for those just learning to read, are for grades K to 1 with short sentences and only one to two panels per page; Level Two, or easy-to-read comics for emerging readers, are for grades 1 to 2, also with short sentences, but more repetition and one to four panels per page; and Level Three, comics for beginning readers well on their way, are for grades 2 to 3 with longer sentences, transitions in time and place throughout the story and chapters.
'We both learned our love of reading through comics,' Mouly and Spiegelman write at their TOON Books site. 'So did our kids. Now we want to share that pleasure with a new generation as it enters an increasingly visual culture.'
The re-emerging popularity of comic books was still being touted by some as a trend in 2008. Given their approach to this series, Mouly and Spiegelman’s venture was being marketed as a contemporary spin on emerging readers. But I say then and now (though I think hardly anyone would still refer to comics as a passing fancy) that what matters is taking a close look at the books themselves: Are they high-quality literature for children? Yes. Since it was launched three years ago, the series has brought readers nearly 15 outstanding titles by artists from a wide range of backgrounds—established children’s book author/illustrators (Agnès Rosenstiehl), cartoonists and comic books artists (Harry Bliss and Jeff Smith), and some new talent (Trade Loeffler). And the titles have racked up a whole slew of honors, including Theodor Seuss Geisel nods on more than occasion."
--Kirkus Review Blog
"It's, it's PATRICK!!! Squeee!!! When I was little, one of my favorite, favorite books was Geoffrey Hayes' Patrick Eats Dinner. I loved, loved, loved that book. I went hunting for it a few years ago and discovered A. it was out of print and B. a used copy would run me about $300. I'm saving up.
All of this is to say, I'm so excited that Toon Books and Geoffrey Hayes has brought back Patrick! I loved his mouse characters, Benny and Penny, and Patrick has the same real child feeling with delightful illustrations and Toon Books signature blend of easy text and simple comic panels.
The title story has Patrick and his mother going on a picnic in the park. There's excitement (an escaped balloon and a bully), humor (Patrick and his mom being silly together), disappointment (rain!) and a happy ending (picnic in the living room!). The other stories contain several episodes of a continuing funny story about Patrick's naps (great for teaching continuity and plot development and time and so on) and a longer story where Patrick meets the bully, Big Bear, again and after some initial setbacks wins the day.
Hayes' characters have charm without being saccharine and while Patrick may not appeal to the screen-obsessed kids who only want easy readers with tv tie-in characters, most kids will be drawn in by the comic format and funny pictures and find themselves giggling along with the story as they improve their reading and comprehension skills.
The back contains a fun author note about the inspiration for the story, tips for parents on reading comics with kids, and an explanation of the reading levels in Toon Books.
Verdict: Toon Books are a must for your easy reader section and I predict this new series from Geoffrey Hayes will be a classic. Buy two copies. Now!"
--Jean Little Library