Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Benny and Penny and the Big No-No!

Written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes
Most enjoyed by Preschoolers, Kindergartners, and 1st Graders

With simple, clear text and appealing characters, 'Benny and Penny and the Big No-No!' is a perfect book for the youngest of readers. It's easy to see why this book won the 2010 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. It's easy enough for a first grader to read on their own and just right for a parent-child read-aloud.

Benny and Penny know it is wrong to go next door without asking, but Benny has lost his pail and he's pretty sure the new neighbor has taken it. But who is the new neighbor? A monster? When Benny peers over the fence separating their yards, he accidentally falls into the neighbor's yard. There's his pail alright, but there's also some neatly made mud pies. Would a monster make mud pies? Benny and Penny hide when they hear the monster coming but the monster is as surprised by their presence as much as they're surprised by the monster's real identity. As they hurry over the fence with Benny's pail, they make a discovery that leads to the realization that perhaps the new neighbor isn't such a monster after all.

What I love about this book is the simple lessons it teaches in such a subtle way. There is a consequence for Benny and Penny's actions, those no-no's of the title, yet each is resolved in a manner that begs to be repeated in real life. For example, when Benny and Penny discover that Benny has falsely accused the neighbor of taking his pail, they go back over the fence to apologize, showing readers that a simple 'I'm sorry' can often be all it takes to right a wrong. The no-no's are situations youngsters often find themselves in, such as disobeying a rule or taking something that doesn't belong to them. Common, ordinary events that are part of growing up but that often need gentle instruction.

While 'Benny and Penny and the Big No-No!' is the second book in a series created by Geoffrey Hayes it is the first one in our collection. And once it starts circulating, I suspect it won't be the last!

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