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BENNY AND PENNY IN LOST AND FOUND

From the Benny and Penny series

These sweet sibs show no signs of growing old—thank goodness.

Gently bickering mouse siblings Benny and Penny have another backyard adventure, this time when they search for Benny’s lost pirate hat.

As the book opens, Benny is in a real funk—“a BAD mood!” His pirate hat is lost again, this time for two days. Mommy says he needs to stay outside until his good mood is restored. Equal parts helpful and hindering, Penny tags along on his quest, the fog-enshrouded backyard presenting a landscape it’s all too easy to imagine getting lost in. Over the course of this brief, comic-book story, the children explore a number of valences of lost and found. Benny loses Penny when she darts into the underbrush, having found her lost jump rope. He instructs her, “we need to be lost together.” When Penny frets that they are “REALLY lost,” Benny insists they aren’t: “We are right here.” Hayes also takes the opportunity to explore preschoolers’ mercurial emotions. The sibs are effective emotional foils for each other, Penny’s buoyant cheer grating on Benny’s determined dudgeon before she becomes anxious, then angry, then sad and frightened. Benny’s brave decision to be in a good mood marks a literal turning point, bringing the little lost mice home again. Hayes’ colored-pencil panels keep their sunny charm even in the fog.

These sweet sibs show no signs of growing old—thank goodness. (Graphic early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-935179-64-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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ROBOBABY

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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