How can Benny pretend to be a brave pirate when his pesky little sister, Penny, wants to tag along and is always asking for a hug? He tries to lose her, but when he does, he starts to feel a little lost himself. Penny proves her bravery and saves Benny from a bug. They hug as Benny explains he was only pretending she bugged him. Special bonus feature: this book includes read-aloud audio! With the voices of Geoffrey Hayes as Benny and Leigh Stein as Penny
Hayes, creator of the Otto and Uncle Tooth mysteries, chooses mouse siblings as the subjects for this comic book cum easy reader, first in a planned series (see Silly Lilly, reviewed p. 69). Jazzy, multipanel layouts add a contemporary dimension to simply worded episodes about an eager younger sister and standoffish brother who relish their rivalry more than they admit. Benny fashions himself as a buccaneer with a black tricorn hat and a wooden sword; when he stands in a crate, a thought bubble shows him aboard a galleon that flies the Jolly Roger. Sweet-natured Penny, clad in baby-blue princess gear, wants to play, too, and he automatically rebuffs her: "No! Pirates are brave, and you are a cry-baby." At last Benny initiates a game of hide-and-seek, with no intention of seeking at least, until Penny disappears. Hayes's colored-pencil pictures set the action near the ground, in cozy panels depicting a secure woodland space. Shallow backgrounds ensure that the outside world never intrudes, except when Benny is startled by bugs that don't faze his sister. A close-range perspective gives readers a good look at Benny and Penny's facial expressions, supplying the context for the dialogue. These skillful drawings do just what they attempt: they lever beginning readers right into the story. Ages 4-up.