Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools and Libraries

Benny and Penny in Lost and Found!Benny and Penny in Lost and Found!
Written and illustrated by: Geoffrey Hayes
Publisher: TOON Books
Format: Hardcover, 6 x 9, 40 pages, Full Color, $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-93517-964-1

I wish I could have read this book as a child. Period. End of review.

Just kidding. Seriously, though, this early reader comic is not only deeply meaningful for children, but also for adults.  

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (or so we like to think!) we were all children. As children some of us needed to learn how to better control and handle our moods, especially when things didn't go our way. In Geoffrey Hayes' latest edition of the Benny and Penny series Benny wakes up to realize that his day has gotten off to a bad start. Benny has lost his favorite pirate hat! Given to him by his beloved Uncle Herb Benny cannot shake his bad mood.

Teamed up with Penny and his bad mood Benny sets off on a journey to find his hat. After searching for awhile with no pirate hat in sight Penny is tired and wants to go home, and actually so does Benny. Plus, they miss their mom.  In order to be a helpful and loving older brother, however, Benny realizes that he must get rid of his bad mood, become a leader, and replace his bad mood with a motivational good mood to get back home.  

Benny and Penny are in for a surprise when they get home, a surprise that is sure to influence Benny's mood once more. What happens when Benny and Penny return home? You'll just have to read this endearing early reader comic by Geoffrey Hayes and published by TOON Books to find out.

Elements of Story

Plot: Benny wakes up in one bad mood because he has lost his pirate hat. Can Benny and his sister Penny team up in order to rid Benny of his bad mood and find his pirate hat?

Characters: Benny, Penny, Uncle Herb, Mom

Settings: Benny and Penny's house, Benny and Penny's yard and adventure into a forest

Themes: Family, Teamwork, Moods and Attitudes, Lost and Found, Problem and Solution, Leadership

Recommended Common Core Standards for Early Readers

Key Ideas and Details
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3 - Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

Lesson Plan:

Directions: One of the most significant aspects of this early reader comic book is its plot and how it unfolds. Paired with the Common Core Standard for teaching early readers about Key Ideas and Details the following lesson plan asks students to order and map the various places Benny and Penny go in order to find Benny's missing pirate hat.

In the spaces below encourage students to pick 3 – 4 of the most significant locations Benny and Penny visit as the story unfolds; ask students to draw each location.  When they are done with their map ask them to explain how the story progressed from one location to the next location.


Location # 1

Location # 2

Location # 3

Location # 4


















Comics Squad: Recess!Comics Squad: Recess!
Written and illustrated by: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Gene Luen Yang, Eric Wight, Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, Dan Santat, Dav Pilkey, and Ursula Vernon
Edited by: Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm and Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Format: Softcover, 5 x 7, 144 pages, Full Color, $7.99
ISBN: 978-0-38537-003-5

Ok, teachers and librarians, get ready to roll out the red carpet for this one. With names you are sure to recognize just about every super-hero-talented writer and/or artist in comics for kids is involved in this comic book compilation. With top-notch editors Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (creators of Babymouse and Squish), and Jarrett J. Krosoczka (creator of Lunch Lady) this book is an automatic win at first sight.

And don't worry because just from the credits and the introduction you may raise your expectations. Well, raise them even higher. When you open this compilation of kids' comics they are just as fun and engaging as the warning label on the back cover alludes: "WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CUASE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS."

From start to finish I laughed and hung out with the characters in this book. From schoolyard ninjas to a superhero named Dog Man early readers will appreciate each of these short, quick mini comics. I know I did, and I often get accused of being my significant other's third child, a complement I am happy to hear as much as possible.

Elements of Story

Plot: Pick your adventure! Pick your pleasure! Or simply enjoy them all. You can read about schoolyard ninjas, a cafeteria pizza monster, freeze tag recess time, adventurous squirrels with big plans, nauseous school play kissing scenes, kickball wars, and much, much more.

Characters: Ninjas, Daryl, Mr. and Mrs. Beard, Harold, George, Petey, Dog Man, Betty, Lunch Lady, Pizza Monster, Principal Hernandez, Squeak, Babymouse, Zeus, Jiminy Sprinkles, Grover/Goober, the Mean Green Gang, Russell, John, Andrew, Sophia, Eddie, Asha, Josh, Mr. Guff, Boring Becca

Settings: Camelot, schoolyards, family homes, cafeterias, jail, cities, Mount Olympus, the Wild West, Rome, Recess

Themes: Clubs, Identity, Play, Friendship, Adventure, Goals and Dreams, Teamwork

Recommended Common Core Standards*

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually

*Even though this is a Language Arts, Reading Common Core Standard for grades 6 – 12 Comics Squad: Recess! can be read in lower grades as well. In that case, I still recommend that educators focus on the integration of knowledge and ideas in this graphic novel, especially in terms of characterization and what students read in text and see in images.

Lesson Plan:

Directions: The integration of each mini-comic makes this unique text a well suited match for two literacy learning strategies, both of which emphasize comprehension and fluency.  

Pop-POW! Knowledge-Based Literacy Strategy
Directions: as students read Comics Squad: Recess! ask them to track their reading with the below literacy strategy that emphasizes each mini-comic's story one at a time.


Author and Story Title












































































Directions: When students are done reading this collection of mini-comics ask them to consider the INTEGRATION OF IDEAS between stories.

In other words, how do the stories overlap? Which characters share similarities and / or differences? Are there any similar or different themes? What makes the plots similar or different?

Directions: In the below Flow Chart, a literacy strategy I like to call Integration Exploration, ask students to identify – in order – the similarities and differences between all of the mini-comics they outlined in the Pop-POW! Knowledge-Based Literacy Strategy.

Integration Exploration

Authors and Story Titles

Which Plots are Similar / Different?

Which Characters Are Similar / Different?

Which Themes Are Similar / Different?













































































Authors and Story Titles

Which Plots are Similar / Different?

How so?

Which Characters Are Similar / Different?

How so?

Which Themes Are Similar / Different?

How so?

















































































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 (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts ( in press, 2014).  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 two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.