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Sunday, March 16, 2014

BENNY and PENNY in THE BIG NO-NO! Written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes. A Toon Book, Candlewick Press. Random House, 2009. $6.00 ages 4 and up

"It's a little GIRL!

Uh, oh!
This one on
the end is all

Now, I will
have to make
a new one.

I trust that you have met Benny and Penny prior to seeing this tale. They are mice; they have the same personal issues that many siblings have; and they are curious and inventive. They also have new neighbors, and they wish they knew if they had a kid. A furtive look through a knothole in the fence provides no answer. Oh, well. There's a lot for them to do at home.

The real action begins when Penny uses her watering can to collect some water from their wading pool. It leads to a familiar confrontation:

"Okay. WHERE is my pail?
I don't know!
It was here yesterday!
Well, I didn't take it!
I don't know!!
Why do you have to cry all the time?
I was just ASKING!
Maybe the new kid took it."

Of course, why hadn't Benny thought of that?

Over the fence they go ( a definite NO-NO for both of them), and the search begins. They cannot figure out what kind of neighbor they have...the footprints that lead from the fence are unfamiliar. Their trek through the neighbor's yard holds mystery and some terror. The panels are sequenced and tell a story that might play out in any backyard. Misunderstanding abounds, and it is left to Benny and Penny to make amends when they realize that they have made a huge mistake. There is also a chance to experience a helping of sibling unity.

I'm pleased to add it to a rapidly growing list of worthy TOON books for young readers.


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