Benny and Penny in Lights Out!
by Geoffrey Hayes
Toon Books/Candlewick Press
978-1-935179-20-7, 32 pp.
Toon Books once again brings us the adventures of Benny and his little sister Penny in Lights Out! It’s a story all too familiar with parents: little sister Penny is getting ready for bed—she’s brushed her teeth and getting ready to read a story—but Benny isn’t. Benny would rather play games with a flashlight, try to find the moon, try to scare Penny with tales of the “Boogey Mouse,” burp, make loud noises while reading a book about dinosaurs—in other words, be the typical rambunctious older brother. When it’s finally time for the lights to go out, Benny can’t sleep without his pirate hat that he left outside in his playhouse. With his flashlight in hand, Benny crawls out the window and Penny soon follows him—and the two siblings must face the dark, spooky night together.
Geoffrey Hayes’ Benny and Penny books have become a staple from Toon Books, and the series—with this being the fourth book—continues to be a charming look at the relationship between two sibling mice. As with with the other books in the series, the artwork is in full color, and Hayes uses colored pencil, giving the series a simple but engaging style that young readers will find charming. Hayes takes a great deal of care in crafting a whimsical world his mice live in—no detail is left out, and the young readers have some great words to learn how to read, including “dinosaurs,” “pirates,” “princess,” “flashlight,” and of course “burp.” Benny and Penny are two of the most adorable mice created in a comic book format, and their adventures are engaging to young readers.
As a parent, I can relate to the relationship of the mice—especially since my own children are almost identical to the personalities of Benny and Penny. Hayes has succinctly captured the wonder and excitement of being that young again as well as the fun of having a sibling to explore it with. The series continues to show a fun look at timeless tales of big brothers and little sisters and the wonder of imagination.