ZOE AND ROBOT

LET'S PRETEND!

From the Balloon Toons series

A precocious girl teaches her robot friend the art of imagination. Cheerful Zoe, accessorized with a bubblegum-pink cat-eared cap, is determined to teach her friend Robot the art of playing pretend. Amassing a “mountain” of pillows, she suggests they “climb” to the top of the peak, though for literal Robot, this causes great difficulties; all he can see is a tottering pile of cushions. Through Zoe’s sheer persistence and ingenuity, she carefully guides the robot into the world of imagination, and the pair spends a satisfying afternoon mountaineering indoors. Bright colors and oversize panels make this early reader graphic tale particularly attractive to younger readers. Fans of the TOON books (Stinky, by Eleanor Davis; Otto’s Orange Day, by Jay Lynch and Frank Cammuso, both 2008, etc.), should find this quirky buddy story equally appealing. Simultaneously releasing is the sweet—though only a shade less charming—Doggie Dreams, by Mike Herrod, which features a young boy and his pup, reminiscent of Sherman and Mister Peabody. Jake, the somnolent title canine, takes readers through his not-so-wild dreams: of eating people food, playing in a rock-and-roll band and being a brave knight and saving a damsel (er...dogsel?) in distress. As the two books share a similar page layout and palette, readers should be able to easily transition from one tale to the next. Darling. (Graphic early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60905-063-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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