Reviews of Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!
★ "In Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!, the children are suspicious that their new neighbor has stolen Benny's pail, so they sneak into her yard even though they know it's a 'big no-no!' Through many misunderstandings, they learn to apologize and make a new friend. The simple text uses basic vocabulary and repetition, making it accessible to emerging readers. Young children will love the graphic-novel format and the sweet, charming illustrations will draw them into the narrative. Fans of Geoffrey Hayes's popular Benny and Penny in Just Pretend won't be disappointed with this sequel."
--School Library Journal (starred)
"In Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! Geoffrey Hayes creates a backyard adventure that young readers can relate to -- the brother and sister team of Benny and Penny investigate a new neighbor's yard in search of Benny's lost pail. They think they find the missing pail and jump to conclusions about their new neighbor, but eventually they discover their mistake, apologize and make a new friend. Along the way the siblings squabble, but stand up for each other when it counts. Hayes makes his rodent characters come alive with a wide variety of expressions that draw the readers into the story. The restricted vocabulary makes this volume a very useful tool for emerging readers, while the fluidly rendered narrative with its occasional flashes of dynamic slapstick humor will delight all sorts of kids and introduce them to the delights of visual storytelling whether they are being read to or reading themselves."
"A perfect example of a graphic novel designed just for young readers...Children will connect with the realistic dialogue and page-turning appeal of the story. They will be thrilled to enter the world of graphic novels."
--American Library Association
"In this delightful sequel to Benny and Penny in Just Pretend (2008), the mouse siblings have a new neighbor whom they suspect might be a thief, because Benny's pail is missing. Then they look over the fence into the backyard, they see strange footprints. Then Benny falls into the yard, Penny follows, and they find a pail, mudpies, and a hedgehog girl wearing swim goggles and fins on her feet. They accuse each other, the hedgehog girl flings mud at the others, and the two mice go back to their yard--where Penny finds Benny's pail in their sandbox. Now they have to go back and apologize. Young readers will recognize the misunderstanding and the bad first impressions people will sometimes make as Benny and Penny--and Melina-- learn a lesson about making friends. Hayes draws charming little animal children with highly expressive faces, and he uses great dialogue, easy-to-follow panels, and fun sound effects; children will repeat his muddy 'slop!' with gusto."
"When fractious mouse siblings Benny and Penny observe that a new neighbor has moved in next door, curiosity leads them into a big no-no: climbing the fence to see if perhaps the newcomer may have stolen Benny's missing pail. The neighbor has curious footprints; might it be a monster? Hayes psychologically develops the suburban jungle masterfully, with a keen understanding that, to the small child, next door is as exotic as Inner Mongolia. His sunny, detailed scenes tell the story in sequential panels, punctuated by the children's tearful outbursts, as stormy and temporary as summer showers. The illustrations provide just enough visual storytelling to allow emergent readers to focus on the dialogue, rendered in speech balloons, the standard vocabulary of preschoolers exactly in tune with readers' capabilities: 'You can't just TAKE stuff,' Benny says as he climbs; 'Uh-oh! This [mud pie] on the end is all broken!' exclaims the neighbor monster. Benny and Penny make agreeable protagonists, all sibling-squabbling when they're on their own but uniting against the depredations of the 'monster' and doing the right thing when it's called for."
"In the second comic book-style title to star brother and sister mice Benny and Penny, the fussy duo track down a mysterious 'new kid' who may have climbed over the fence into their yard and stolen Benny's pail (a 'no-no'). But when they meet the culprit (a mole in a polka-dot dress, green flippers and goggles), they re-evaluate the situation. Thought bubbles and dynamic expressions make the simple story come to life; early readers will easily identify the emotional states of the three characters and predict the playful outcomes."
More Reviews for Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!
"This delightful tale is a TOON Book, one of a series of award-winning early-reading comic books. Benny and Penny learn that a new kid lives next door, but know that they are not supposed to go over the fence. When Benny peeks over and discovers that the new kid has stolen his pail (or so he thinks) hostility brews and misunderstandings ensue. While the message of the story is kindness and friendship, as well as following rules, the true pleasure come from introducing a new genre to your youngster."
"This is more traditional storybook fare, done in a classic watercolor, 'cute animals' style that comes complete with a heartwarming moral about the importance of not jumping to conclusions. To wit: Benny and penny have learned there's a new kid who moved in next door, but don't know anything about him or her. When Benny can't find his pail he immediately assumes the new neighbor took it and he and his sister trespass in an attempt to get it back. Trouble ensues, but is speedily resolved with lots of 'I'm sorry's' and 'let's be friends' to go around. What I like about the Benny and Penny books is that they resemble actual kids, not just in their speech and demeanor but in the way they interact with each other. They're very recognizable siblings which will no doubt appeal to a lot of young readers with similar family structures."
"Geoffrey Hayes’ THE BIG NO-NO! is his second TOON Book that follows the adventures of two little mice; Penny and her jerky brother Benny. In the first pages we see Benny in all of his belligerent glory. Anything his sister likes Benny treats contemptuously for no discernible reason other than plain meanness. When Penny blithely tells him she hopes their new neighbor is a girl, he pulls out that wonderful old notion that girls are all 'crybabies.' It’s a wonder Penny still has such a sweet personality what with having to deal with her brother’s rotten attitude all the time. When their sand pail goes missing, Benny immediately assumes their new neighbor has stolen it. He insists that he and Penny should commit a 'big no-no' and climb the fence to get it back. When they get there Penny is delighted to see their neighbor has assembled a collection of mud pies with flowers on top. Benny, of course, could care less and snatches up what he thinks is their pail. But when the new kid - a little girl mole - returns, things get ugly. Thanks in no small part to Benny’s fear-mongering, a few simple misunderstandings escalate into an all out brawl. Everyone pelts each other with clods of dirt before the siblings escape over the fence. Now it should be noted that Benny at least acts honorably here and defends his sister from attack. Once home, Penny finds the missing pail in their own yard. For a second time Benny decides to do the right thing and return the pail. The kids actually get to know each other after this and become friends. Then the most remarkable thing happens. After hurting himself with a rake Benny cries like a banshee. The mole laughs and calls him a crybaby (oh the irony). But Penny steps up and defends her jackass brother. Even after all of his derision, even in the face of such poetic justice, Penny acts with love and charity. What a gal. Geoffrey Hayes is an excellent fit for the TOON line. The gentle line work has a warm traditional feel. Kids who dig the art of Beatrix Potter or Cyndy Szekeres would probably respond to this immediately. This isn’t his first Toon book and I hope he makes more. Maybe a comic called PENNY AND HER NEW FRIEND GO OUT TO PLAY AND THEY LEAVE BENNY AT HOME BECAUSE HE’S AN ANNOYING JERK. I’ve got plenty more good ideas like that, Geoff, give me a call."
--Nerds With Kids
"I haven't read the first Benny and Penny book, but the title characters of Benny and Penny in the Big No-No are an adorable pair of brother and sister mice. The dynamic of big brother/little sister is clear from the beginning as the two sneak into the neighbor's yard to steal back Benny's pail. Or at least what they believe to be Benny's pail. Instead, they make an enemy--but then a friend--of their new neighbor, a little possum named Melina. The playground conflict of judging someone before you know them is sweetly and simply presented. Hayes' soft, colored-pencil artwork recalls a lot of the children's books I read as a kid--Beatrix Potter and Mercer Mayer are obvious ones, but there is some of the wholesome nostaliga of Tasha Tudor. This will become many children's favorite book."
"The brother and sister mice are back in their second book, where they're curious about their new neighbor. The two, although mice, act just like kids. Benny's impatient with his younger sister, thoughtless about her wants and blaming her for his own forgetfulness. His pail is missing, and he jumps to the conclusion the new kid must have something to do with it. Even though leaving their year is a big no-no, they venture out and after many misunderstandings, eventually make a new friend in the hedgehog next door. Along the way, there's plenty of mud, both splashed in and thrown. The drawings are simply lovely, beautiful to get lost in, and softly colored. They have a good sense of both action, capturing just the right moment, and character. A wonderful read."
--Comics Worth Reading
"Brother and sister Benny and Penny, two little mice, return in their second book, another of the excellent TOON Book easy readers. In this story, the mice learn that a new family has moved next door, and that they have a child. The two are dying to get a glimpse of the new kid through the fence, but they can't see anything. They know that it's a 'big no-no' to climb over the fence and sneak into someone's yard, but when Benny discovers that his pail is missing, and Penny wonders aloud if the new kid took it, Benny is over the fence and into the yard in a flash. Misunderstandings, false accusations, hurt feelings and a mud fight ensue, and as events play out, it becomes clear that friendship can spring up in the most unexpected ways. I adored the first Benny and Penny book, Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, and I love the concept of the easy reader TOON Book series. The books are very well made, with thick pages and sturdy spines, and the illustrations are colorful and appealing. The TOON Books at my library are incredibly popular, rarely staying on the shelf for more than a day or two before they're snatched up by another interested reader. This particular book tells a story that children will easily relate to. Older and younger siblings alike will identify with the relationship between Benny and Penny, who are friends and playmates but do not always see eye to eye. They will get caught up in the story, which is told in simple, readable words for emerging readers - and has all the visual cues to explain those words that any new reader could desire - because it is not just a series of words from a word list arranged in a 'kind of' story, like so many beginning readers are. It is exciting, funny, and even involves a little mystery - just what did happen to Benny's pail? I brought this book home from the library yesterday (it won this year's Geisel Award, and I hadn't read it yet!), and I happened to set it down on the kitchen table. Both my children (in the third and fifth grades) are well past easy readers at this point, but each one picked it up and read it through without any prompting on my part - and both said how cute and fun it is. That is the magic of graphic novels - kids pick them up willingly (as do many adults) - and what's better than graphic novels targeted at the younger set, to make the books even more appealing? Another thing I like about these books is that for kids who are behind their peers in reading skill development, it is less off-putting or embarrassing to read this kind of book around their friends than something clearly targeted at much younger children - their friends will want to read this too, just as my kids did, simply because it's such a good book. Hooray for TOON Books!"
--Books & Other Thoughts
"Benny and Penny learn a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions when they blame the new girl next door for committing a big no-no. This story is adorably drawn and well told....This book would definitely appeal to the kindergarten set."
--The Bluestocking Society
"Artist Geoffrey Hayes has illustrated many other children's books including Margaret Wise Brown's When the Wind Blew. But his latest efforts are on Benny and Penny series published by TOON Books in NYC. These charming handcrafted drawings give these stories a soft and sweet old fashioned feel and somewhat timeless quality to them. Both stories, "Just Pretend" and "The Big No-No!", capture with great accuracy the quick and sometimes bitter conflicts young siblings deal with many times throughout any given day. I think it is this that makes these stories engaging for the kids. I think the kids actually connect with the characters in the stories, quite simply Benny and Penny speak directly to them often responding to situations exactly like a preschooler would, case in point, at one point Penny proclaims, "I had to go pee-pee!". Then again, there are the Vaudevillian prat falls and other physical humor peppered throughout these stories that get a chuckle out of them and keep them turning the pages."
"This is the second in the Spring 2009 releases from Francoise Mouly’s TOON Books line for younger readers. It’s also the first sequel in the line, following on from Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, saying that it was: 'yet another delightful little tale from Francoise Mouly’s Toon Books, told with deceptively simple layouts and delicately old-fashioned artwork.' And it should come as no surprise to find out that I thought exactly the same of this second book, which has all the charm, all the sweet, old-fashioned sentiment of the first.
This time Benny and Penny, older brother and annoying younger sister, go investigating in their mysterious new neighbour’s back garden. Yes, they know it’s a No-No to go there but Benny thinks the neighbour’s taken his sand bucket and he’s going to get it back, No-No or not. So off they go, causing trouble and tears along the way as they discover that the neighbour might not be such a monster after all; in fact she might be a kid like them who just wants to be friends. And Benny’s bucket? Well, like any parent can tell you, it’s amazing how kids can forget where they left even the most important of things. Just like the first Benny and Penny adventure this is full of lovely bits of fun between our two quarrelsome siblings, with the arguments ringing true each time between big brother and baby sister. And the clumsy and uncomfortable way that children make friends is played out perfectly between Benny and Penny and their new neighbour. It’s simple, yet a delight, with Hayes’ art firmly in the classic children’s illustration style. The TOON Books library is expanding rapidly into an absolute treasure for any bookcase and will be read and re-read long after your children pass the young age that these books are aimed at. My 9 year old has them all on her shelf and, although she’s far too old for them in terms of her reading ability, she’s never going to be too old for them in terms of their charm and capability to delight."
"There’s something very comforting about the absolute best children’s books; even if they’re brand new, they can somehow make you feel like you’re back in your childhood, reading a book that you’d loved way back then. Over the years, a lot of children’s books have come across my desk, and ones from TOON Books (with their synthesis of children’s books and comic books) have been some of my favorites. With Geoffrey Hayes’s Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!, once again the rest of the world stopped as I sat down to read a truly excellent children’s book. Benny and his little sister Penny are playing in their back yard, but Benny has heard exciting news: there’s a new child living next door! Peeking through the knothole in the fence doesn’t show anyone there, and all might have been forgotten until Benny realizes that his pail is missing. Did the new kid next door come and steal it? When Benny decides to try and find his pail, though, he ends up in a scary situation, one with…a monster??? In both Hayes’s previous book (Benny and Penny in Just Pretend) and this new installment, Hayes really brings his two title characters to life in a way that makes you feel like you’re reading about actual children. The almost casual nature in which Benny and Penny get into a disagreement, complete with Benny making younger sister Penny burst into tears is a perfect example of that. You can see Benny’s temper rising as he can’t find his pail, even as Penny tries to be helpful. When he grabs onto her watering can and starts shouting, both of them seem almost hysterical; Benny because he’s a little kid who can’t find his toy, Penny because she’s being yelled at by her big brother. Benny’s response, 'Why do you have to cry all the time? I was just asking!' is the perfect half-apology, too. He knows he’s done something wrong, but he can’t bring himself to actually say that he’s sorry—he’s still worked up over his missing pail—so he deflects the blame in a dismissive manner, even though he’s trying to move on. The whole book plays to Hayes’s strength as a writer, getting inside the head of his fictional mice children. As an adult you can see where Benny’s leaps of logic are doomed for failure, but at the same time you can see just how Benny comes to those wrong conclusions. His fear of the 'monster' next door is great, and I love how Penny is young enough to be afraid of committing a 'no-no' even as Benny brashly pushes past those parental warnings. Even when Benny finally figures out what’s really going on, he still feels like such a kid; I love how he backs away slowly, even as he’s trying to make things right. And of course, it’s Penny who has to issue the actual apology. Best of all, though? Hayes’s art is nothing short of adorable. Benny and Penny are such cute little mice, and so expressive too. From Benny’s disgusted face as he shouts, 'Mud! Pooie!' to his angry look when he tries to get back his pail, he’s hard to not love how well Hayes draws them. I especially love the addition of Melina; from her perky little nose to her goggles and flippers, I can’t help but be charmed by her every time she appears. Really, when you’ve got a mole in a yellow and red polka-dotted frilly bathing suit, how can you go wrong? Hayes’s art is gorgeous and something that I think everyone will love. Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! is another charming and attractive arrival from TOON Books. From the smooth cover stock and patterned book spine, to the interior pages themselves, it’s a beautiful finished product. It’s definitely a book to be proud of as a publisher, or to cherish as a reader. Like so many other books from TOON Books, I’ll be giving lots of copies of Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! as gifts to younger readers. I know, though, that the parents reading along with their children are going to absolutely taken with it too. I know I was."
"I am terrible at telling true stories because I have an unnatural aversion to exaggerating. I say this so you will understand that what I say here is the 99.9% truth. I wanted to write a review of the TOON Books comic for new readers Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! by Geoffrey Hayes, but my daughter won't let me. I got a copy of this upcoming release from TOON Books in the mail a few days ago and it has been in my four-year-old's room ever since. I have read it at least a dozen times now. I tried sneaking it out this evening to help me with this review, but she wanted to read before going to sleep so I had to sneak back. I like the cute characters (I love how the little platypus girl looks as she is preparing to throw a mudball...I can't remember her name and I don't have the book, remember?) and the effective storytelling. The smallish comic panels would make it a hard book to read to a group of kids, but it is perfect for reading with one or two kids gathered around you. That's all I can say without having the book so I will quote my daughter: 'This is my favorite book ever.'—Mariah Tingley, age 4, reviewer for ComicsinTheClassroom.net. That sums it up perfectly! This book is due out on May 5, 2009 and would be perfect for grades one and lower (on the other hand, some of my grade threes last year really enjoyed the first book - even though the reading level was not challenging for them, they still liked the art and story).
"First introduced in Geoffrey's Hayes Just Pretend, mice siblings Benny and Penny quickly earned rare reviews from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist which called Hayes' story of a sibling rivalry, 'a charmer that will invite repeated readings.' With The Big No-No! Hayes re-captures much of the same appeal from his early reader comic book while tackling new issues like wrong impressions and fear of the unknown."