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Friday, November 25, 2016

Benny and Penny in HOW TO SAY GOODBYE, by Geoffrey Hayes. A Toon Book. Publihsers Group Canada, 2016. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"What are you going to do
with him?
Put him in a safe place.
Hey! That's my pail!
I need it!
Let's ignore him.
Inside the little cave?
Too creepy!
In the sandbox?
Benny would find him.
Come on."

It's always lovely to welcome Benny and Penny, the tiny mice who like to argue as much as they like to show understanding of the other and unconditional love. In their new book, they are dealing with death. Penny is upset to see that Little Red, a salamander, has died. Benny shows no concern, even voicing the opinion that he's 'not sorry'. It seems Benny has been scared by Little Red's quick moves on more than one occasion.

Melina is there to help Penny. Penny wants to find a safe place for the body. They come up with a plan, and leave Benny out. Benny follows them as they make their childlike arrangements for a burial, and he listens to the memories that the two share. As he listens, Benny has a revelation. It causes great sorrow. Penny, as she so often does, includes Benny, asking him to help them find things to keep Red company in the spot where they have buried him.

Geoffrey Hayes' colored pencil images provide a feeling of warmth and understanding, and even a bit of humor. The death of the salamander is treated matter-of-factly, while also allowing young readers to see that the emotions surrounding death can be very different. Sensitive and forthright, it assures young children an opportunity to consider death and will allow for discussion for those in need of it.

Pair it with Margaret Wise Brown's The Dead Bird (Harper, 2016).

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