November 21, 2017

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Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes | SLJ Review

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redstarHAYES, Geoffrey. Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye. illus. by Geoffrey Hayes. 32p. Toon. Sept. 2016. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781935179993.

benny-and-pennyK-Gr 2 –In this addition to the celebrated series, Benny and Penny, the mouse siblings who are prone to squabbling but quick to hug and make up, learn about death. Penny notices that Little Red, a salamander, has died, but when she tells big brother Benny, he brushes her off. With soft lines and a muted palette, Hayes’s colored pencil illustrations have a gentle quality, and though the story is more somber than previous outings, the homey setting and familiar characters, as well as the decision to make this a relatively low-stakes death (an animal rather than a parent or relative), temper what could have been a more melancholy tone. Hayes is forthright, showing the mice interacting with the salamander’s body. He acknowledges that children often have mixed reactions to death: Penny is upset about her friend’s demise, and she and her pal Melina, a mole, decide to hold a burial; Benny is initially brusque but later confides tearfully that he regrets his uncharitable behavior toward Little Red. Concise text, conveyed entirely through speech bubbles, and a simple narrative make this ideal for budding young readers. VERDICT A wonderful and sensitively handled offering; purchase where the series is popular or where titles on death are needed.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2016 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar ( is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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