Low-key but amiable; still, the terrible verse makes this a no-go.

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THE BEST SATURDAY EVER!

From the Robbie's Big Adventures series , Vol. 1

With a storm rolling in and the power shorting out, a young boy finds a new source of entertainment in Cook’s salute to the imagination.

A hard rain has put the kibosh on going outside, and a downed tree has cancelled the wonderful world of electronics. “Oh Robbie, come on. / Just wait, you'll be fine. / Sit down and start thinking. / You'll have fun in no time!” So Robbie makes himself a costume—always a good first step—and then lets his brain and toys take over as he pilots a spaceship, saves the city from monsters, fights aliens, joins the circus. It’s kind of like a Nike ad: Just do it. There are no great secrets here, just letting imagination run wild. Cook’s forcibly rhymed text is not going to set any reader’s hair on fire, with its lock-step predictability and clunky scansion. Sward’s artwork shifts all about, from spooky dark to slimy monsters to a clown who is more terrifying than all the rest of the beasts and aliens combined. Then the sun comes out, the power returns, and Robbie heads outside, where he can still let his imagination roam.

Low-key but amiable; still, the terrible verse makes this a no-go. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-938063-25-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scarletta Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future.

BALONEY AND FRIENDS

From the Baloney & Friends series , Vol. 1

A new chapter-book series promises tons of fun for everyone.

Baloney the pig couldn’t be happier about starring in his very own book—until pals Peanut D. Horse, Bizz E. Bee, and Krabbit (a crabby rabbit) crash the introduction, leaving him frustrated. Baloney perseveres and goes on to star in several, short comic book–style stories that often break the fourth wall and that always rely on the very different personalities of the characters to deliver humor. Peanut is a Pollyanna and just a bit daffy. Bizz is a sensible, thoughtful bee-ing. Krabbit is so crabby he’d give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money. Baloney? Well, Baloney is a sensitive sort who, in two longer episodes, wants to entertain his friends with a magic show and join in their fun at swimming. Shorter “mini-comics” between these sections provide good breaks for new readers who are, perhaps, just starting to make their ways through a longer text like this. Pizolli saves the strongest story for last, delivering a sweet and satisfying portrait of Peanut’s kindness to her friend Baloney when he feels blue. And readers needn’t feel blue themselves that the story is over since they can follow handy backmatter instructions to draw their own versions of the simple, line-drawn characters.

Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05454-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Another sweet, empathetic day with Benny and Penny.

BENNY AND PENNY IN HOW TO SAY GOODBYE

From the Benny and Penny series , Vol. 6

The sixth title in the Benny and Penny graphic early reader series captures children's transitory emotions with quiet, forgiving humor.

When Benny and Penny find a dead salamander, Penny names it Little Red and insists on a burial, while Benny thinks it's gross. The siblings' contrasting reactions continue throughout the tale. Their “grief” is just as transitory and matter-of-fact as that of the children in Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird (re-issued with new illustrations by Christian Robinson in 2016), though the comic-book format and Hayes' age-appropriate humor update the story. (Benny, hiding behind a bush, sneezes, causing Penny and her mole friend Melina to check the corpse for signs of life.) Although Penny responds in stereotypical girl fashion, bringing flowers for the grave, Benny expresses emotions too. When they find a living salamander, Benny thinks it's Little Red's ghost, while Penny decides it's Red's sister and names it Paula. Speech bubbles used to tell the story guide readers through the pages, while warm, friendly illustrations reminiscent of another classic, Beatrix Potter, provide detail and humor for new readers to study. Death is an odd subject for a comic for young children, but Hayes handles it well. For newly independent readers, this is an alternative to—not a replacement for—Brown’s classic.

Another sweet, empathetic day with Benny and Penny. (Graphic early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-935179-99-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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