Benny and Penny in LIGHTS OUT! by Geoffrey Hayes, 32 pp, RL 1.5
Benny and Penny in LIGHTS OUT! is Geoffrey Hayes's fourth Benny and Penny titles and his fifth TOON Book. And I still love these little mice as much as I did when I read and reviewed their first book back in 2010. As many parents know, including François Mouly, who founded TOON Books as a response to the dearth of good primers, it is very hard to write an engaging beginning readers title. Like Arnold Lobel and Peggy Parish, Hayes track record proves that he has a way with this genre. Hayes's illustrations are completely enchanting, from the gentle color palette to the abundant details of this cozy world where the siblings play, pout and sometimes fight. In Benny and Penny in LIGHTS OUT! the tables are turned a bit when, instead of Penny annoying Benny, Benny proves to be the pest. Bedtime is here and someone doesn't want to settle down. Penny is ready to brush her teeth and get into bed with her storybook while Benny wants to look for the moon and use his flashlight to spook his little sister. Although she gets frustrated with Benny, Penny is patient.
After all sorts of hijinks and scares, including a trip to the playhouse to retrieve Benny's pirate hat, and dueling bedtime stories that involve princesses with secret trap doors and growling dinosaurs, the two finally settle down with Benny falling asleep before Penny! In a twist that parents will find familiar, Penny heads to mom and dad's room to see if they will read her a bedtime story...