Rummanah Aasi
  Do you remember the first time you read a book? Did you pay more attention to the illustrations to follow along with the story and the text your parent(s) read to you when you were little? I know I did. Graphic novels are a great way to teach kids how to read. While the text may have a higher vocabulary that may be beyond their reading comprehension, they can visually 'read' the pictures and understand everything. With pictures and graphic novels, we becoming more aware of the concept of visual literacy. I had a really hard time understanding how visual literacy works. As a child, I didn't read a lot of picture books but somehow graduated to chapter books and eventually novels. It is not until I found some difficulty in reading graphic novels (paying attention to the drawings and text simultaneously) that I understood that literacy is so much more than being able to read and write. This very notion became much clearer for me when I read a toon book called Benny and Penny in Just Pretend by Geoffrey Hayes.

Description: Benny and Penny are brother and sister. Benny is having a great time pretending to be brave Benny the Pirate. He even has a crate that makes a terrific pirate ship. His fun time is threatened by his kid sister, Penny, who is dressed as a princess outfit, suddenly arrives and wants to be a pirate too. Annoyed with his little sister who always tags along and bothers him, Benny intentionally loses her  but soon feels bad after she disappears. Where did Penny go? 

Review: I never heard of a toon book before, but it seems to be a cross between a picture book and a graphic novel. Benny and Penny in Just Pretend is a sweet, adorable, familiar sibling story. It's lovely, vibrant colored illustrations give it an old-fashioned feel. The pages are filled with clear, large illustrations where the text does not overwhelm the page, which in my mind makes it more of a graphic novel than a picture book. The text uses a limited vocabulary with sufficient amount of synonyms and repetition, which will help young readers with word recognition. Children will easily grasp the message through visual clues and learn the same lesson that Benny does as the story ends. Benny and Penny in Just Pretend is a really charming story and one of those books that I'm sure kids will love to read over and over again.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for PreK-1

If you like this book try: Benny and Penny in The big no-no! or Benny and Penny in The toy breaker by Geoffrey Hayes
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