Thursday, October 21, 2010

Benny and Penny Series by Geoffrey Hayes

**A special thanks to The Reading Tub for asking me to be part of her A Carnival for New Readers for the month of October**

A good librarian is worth her weight in gold. Much of my childhood was spent browsing the shelves of our library with the librarian standing over my shoulder offering recommendations. Last week I stopped in our library and asked for suggestions for my budding readers. She could not have been more helpful!! I went home with half a dozen books, most of which got read in the first couple of nights.

I find it is difficult for emerging readers to suddenly jump into the world of black text, white page, one picture on every other page. So much of reading up until that point has been visual that the change can seem stark. But finding good books which bridge the gap can be something of a challenge (although I will admit that more and more authors are seeing and filling this literacy gap). While I have a long-standing distrust, shall we say, of graphic novels as something less than "real literature," I am beginning to recognize their appeal to new readers. After all, I didn't spent every evening as a child reading Dickens. I read my fair share of Archie and Richie Rich comic books.

Moreover, emerging readers have the challenge of fitting their reading level into their interest level. As Eldest struggled to read he didn't want books with pictures of babies and words like "dolly" and "ball;" he wanted Star Wars and NFL Football. Boy2 is the opposite. His reading ability his high for his age, but he still prefers Blues Clues and doesn't want stories about zombies or space aliens.

Benny and Penny fit perfectly into Boy2's needs. The characters are a brother and sister mouse who go on adventures and get into typical little kid trouble. One of the realities of graphic novels is that many of them are geared to an older reader. Benny and Penny is blissfully innocent. There is nothing scary. There are no creatures lurking in the dark. There are no themes of good vs. evil. They are simple stories.

Boy2 read the 32 page story at bedtime the evening I brought it home. The next evening he requested that we read it together - he played the role of Benny, I got to be Penny. Listening to him read and include the enthusiasm and expressionism of the story was magical. He was so excited.

Yesterday I was back at the library browsing the shelves for more Benny and Penny stories. Sadly, they were all checked out. Obviously my son is not the only fan. We will be keeping our eyes out for these books.

3 comments:

Terry Doherty said...

I hadn't thought about how start the contrast is as kids jump from picture books to smaller books with more "space." You've got me thinking!

ToonBooks has hit the jackpot ... my daughter loves them, too.

Thanks for hosting, Gwen! Here's Pinkalicious (definitely NOT for boys). http://childrens-literacy.com/2010/10/13/book-talk-pinkalicious-pink-around-the-rink-and-school-rules-by-victoria-kahn/

Playing by the book said...

I really like the idea of the two of you taking different roles when reading - and with a graphic novel that division of labour is very straightforward. I've certainly found sharing the reading the way to go with my eldest - the task isn't as daunting, the time becomes something really shared, often new words end up being read by me first (because it's my turn) and that makes it easier for M to work them out when they appear in her part.
Can I ask whether Benny and Penny has any obvious "Americanisms"? - We're in the UK and with some early readers I've gotten hold of through blog reviews I've found they've had lots of american spellings and cultural references that are an additional level of complication for my new reader...

g.n.a.t. said...

Hmm, very good question. The book is back at the library so I can't check it.
At first remembrance, no. The story is about a brother and sister playing pirates. He does call her names which might be uniquely American - but I'm thinking it was more like "baby."

They have their own page: http://toon-books.com/bandp/ It might be worth scrolling through to look at the language.