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Review: Benny & Penny in the Toy Breaker

Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker
By Geoffrey Hayes
Recommended for grades 1-2
April 2010. Toon Books, ISBN: 978-935179-07-8
32 pp. $12.95 

Benny & Penny are back in an all new adventure. This time, it’s about protecting their toys when their cousin Bo comes for an unexpected visit. Cousin Bo is that kid who somehow manages to break everyone’s toys.  Benny & Penny, who were about to set out on a treasure hunt, are reluctant to include their cousin in on their fun.  Bo is that annoying kid who somehow ruins all the fun.  It’s only when Benny and Penny make it known that they really don’t want to play with Bo, and he runs off and gets stuck in a fence, that the three little mice find a way to play together nicely.

This is a story that will ring true to young readers.  The behaviors personified by the mice are so true to life, that the mother/teacher/adult in me thought, “Oh, Benny & Penny should really work to include Bo better. He might be nicer if they did.”  But in reality, the story shows how kids can work problems out on their own with limited interaction with adults. 

And a first or second grader probably won’t read into the story like I am. They’ll just enjoy a good story – with vibrant art.  The panels nicely vary from the traditional 2-3 panels on a page to varied panel formats. The word balloons flow – making it easy for young readers to follow the story and not wonder which way they have to read next.  The facial expressions on the mice are priceless.  I love it when Benny & Penny are trying to hide the treasure map from Bo and then Penny gives it away.  Benny’s hand to the forehead and cringe jumps off the page.  Or Bo’s horror when Penny’s monkey rips. 

This is another excellent addition to the Benny & Penny adventures as well as to the Toon catalog. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Toon Books

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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