Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Benny and Penny in The Big No-No - and - Luke on the Loose

I am eternally thankful to the folks at TOON Books for creating graphic novels in an independent reader format - or would that be independent readers in a graphic novel format? At any rate, what could be better for a new reader than a book that presents quite a few words to read, but sprinkles them comfortably among pictures in a fun comic book format. It's a simple idea and I'm glad that the TOON folks are presenting it with such quality and aplomb.

In Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2009), big brother Benny and little sister Penny, both mice, are quite indignant about their mysterious new neighbor, who has apparently stolen Benny's pail. There is quite a bit of sibling bickering, wild speculation, and (after the neighbor, a little mole girl, shows up) misunderstanding - but it all ends happily with a muddy water fight. Perfect for ages 3 to 7.

In Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss (RAW Junior/TOON Books, 2009), a little boy with a mania for chasing pigeons gets away from his dad at a city park and pursues his prey all over New York City, wreaking havoc as he goes. Meanwhile, his frantic parents call the police. Eventually Luke is rescued from a roof (where he has peacefully fallen asleep) by fire fighters. This is madcap and surreal, with Luke performing amazing Matrix-esque leaps to get those pigeons. Luke and his family appear to be African-American, and folks of many colors fill the New York streets. This reminds me a tiny bit of Jennifer Armstrong's Once Upon a Banana, in which the urban setting (and the utter chaos that descends upon it) is more extreme. Fun for ages 3 to 7.

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