A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that for families with a sense of humor that tends to be a little broad, the book is pretty cute. But others who want more wholesome heroes, Benny's behavior especially may give them pause. "Girls are dumb," he mutters. "Girls are cry-babies." Parents should tread carefully and give the book a quick look-through before sitting down for a read-aloud.
What's the story?
Benny and Penny are siblings who are bickering in their backyard. While they dig in the garden and play in the wading pool they discuss the new neighbor. Who has moved in? Will they be nice? A mean monster? Will the new friend be a boy or a girl? Unfortunately their introduction goes very very wrong. Will they be able to patch things up and be friends?
Is it any good?
Written in comic book format, this is a book that relies heavily on its illustrations. Fortunately the pictures are up for the responsibility. Hearkening back to the style of old fashioned picture books right down to the blue bow cocked over Penny's left ear, the illustrations have a comfortingly nostalgic feel that brings to mind the classic Little Golden Books. But the content is pure slapstick, also old fashioned but a lot less cozy. Benny and Penny call each other names, get mud thrown at them by the new neighbor, and live out a comedy of errors worthy of a Saturday morning cartoon.
The pictures are terrific with the homey nostalgia of old-timey picture books, but in the comic book format.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Benny and Penny's behavior. How might have things gone differently? What other ways could they have solved their problems?
Kids can make their own comic sequels. What happens when Benny and Penny invite their new friend to lunch? Or what if they go over to her house to play?
Parents and kids can talk about misunderstanding they have had with friends. How did they solve them? Was it hard? How do hurt feelings make things more difficult?