Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker by Geoffrey Hayes
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Lynn: Hayes, winner of the 2010 Geisel award for Benny and Penny in the Big No-No, brings Benny and Penny back for their third adventure in Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker (Raw Jr. 2010). As the enticing cover proclaims their cousin Bo, the dreaded toy breaker, is also back. The furry siblings hide all their toys although Penny hangs onto her beloved stuffed monkey. This doesn’t stop Bo who manages to create hilarious havoc, tear off Monkey’s arm and taunt his cousins with the dreaded words, “Are you going to tell your mommy?” When Bo gets stuck in the fence, it takes everyone’s help to pop him free and the cousins discover they can all have fun together – even without toys.
Hayes is clearly tuned into the dynamics of play and the everyday issues that are important to young children. Every child knows a Bo and the lesson delivered in this story is subtle but clear. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the only toys that get broken are those that Benny or Penny try to grab back.
Hayes’ illustrations are cheerfully bright and the characters adorable. He uses large panels that make it easy for the young reader to follow the story. The vocabulary while simple works clearly with the pictures to create a story arc children will care about and can read independently.
I can testify to the reader attraction power of this book! I took the book with a stack of other picture books to read during a trip to our neighborhood pool with my grandsons. They are total fish and leave the water voluntarily only for sustenance or bathroom trips. Both boys saw it during a juice break, sat down and read the entire book before going back to swimming. Now that is star power!
UPDATE: Cindy: I remember this story slightly differently! I picked up this cute book at my local public library thinking that it might make a good blog post and that our focus group might like it. So, I brought it to the pool with Lynn and the boys and one of them saw me reading it and asked for it so I nicely gave it up and the next thing I knew they STOLE it from me and it’s become a blog post while I’m out of town dealing with a sick mother. Boy, you gotta love and hate those sneaky avid readers we have for a focus group. You have to watch 6-year-olds every minute!!! The few pages I got to read before this got packed up with the swim goggles and noodles I really enjoyed. Seriously, though, thank you to Lynn and the boys for covering for me while I’ve been assembling a walker and other fun parts of elder care.