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Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye

Benny and Penny in How to Say GoodbyeBenny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye
Written and Illustrated By: Geoffrey Hayes
Publisher: TOON Books
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 32 pages, Full Color, $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-93517-999-3

Review

As an adamant fan of the Benny and Penny Toon Book series I must honestly admit that when I learned that Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye focused on dealing with death, grief, and loss I got a little nervous.

My initial, nervous reaction was not only premature, but also totally off-base. After reading Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye I remembered that:

1. I have reviewed almost every early reader comic in the Benny and Penny series. The entire collection of Hayes' Benny and Penny Toon Book series has impressed me so much I reference and recommend them to parents, librarians, and teachers on a
regular basis.
2. Part of the mission behind Toon Books publications, founded by Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman, is to present early readers with real life, authentic issues and storylines.

Gracefully written and beautifully drawn, Hayes' Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye might be his best work yet. When Penny realizes that her lizard friend Little Red has died she is sad yet noble; she seeks a proper burial place for her beloved little friend. Benny, however, reacts with anger. He claims that he doesn't care about Little Red and never has. Meanwhile, Penny and her friend Melina address their grief and loss together while they search for a peaceful resting place for Little Red. As they work together to find a burial place and share their respect and fond memories of Little Red Benny starts to rethink his initial reaction to Little Red's death.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plots: When their lizard friend, Little Red, passes away Benny and Penny initially react very differently. Penny is sad. Benny is annoyed. But things change when Benny begins to realize just how much he cared about Little Red.

Major Characters: Benny, Penny, Little Red, Melina, Paula

Settings: Forrest, Pail, Sandbox, Cave, Old Log

Themes: Loss, Friendship, Grief, Family, Sadness, Regret, Past-Present-Future, Moving Forward

English Language Arts Reading Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Early Readers

Key Ideas and details
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
*The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.commoncore.org)

Lesson Idea for Early Readers

Directions: Readers can use the T-chart below to both describe with words and draw with images Benny and Penny's initial and secondary reactions to Little Red’s passing.

 

 

Penny's 1st Reaction

(Use both images and words to describe the reaction)

Benny's 1st Reaction

(Use both images and words to describe the reaction)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penny's 2nd Reaction

(Use both images and words to describe the reaction)

Benny's 2nd Reaction

(Use both images and words to describe the reaction)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, using the T-chart as a reference point, students can use words and/or images in the blank space below to further analyze how and/or why they think Benny and Penny's reactions to Little Red's passing change or remain the same from their initial to second reactions to Little Red’s passing.

The student's guiding question for this analysis is: "How and why do Penny and Benny's reactions to Little Red's passing change throughout the course of the story?"

 

Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2014); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts (2015). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her three wiener dogs, Samantha, Max, and Alex Morgan Monnin.