Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Giveaway and Book Review: Patrick in a Teddy Bear's Picnic and other stories, by Geoffrey Hayes (Toon Books, 2011)

Recommended for ages 4-8.

I am a huge fan of Candlewick's Toon Books, an innovative series of graphic novels aimed especially at beginning readers ages four and up. Toon Books capitalize on children's natural love for comics.  I grew up with stacks of Archie, Richie Rich, Casper the ghost and Peanuts comics, but there was nothing available for the earliest readers.  These TOON books can be read out loud to very young children but are really designed to allow emerging readers to read comics all by themselves.  Each book in the series has been vetted by educators to ensure appropriate vocabulary and narratives.   


 Like traditional beginning readers, the books are tagged with "levels,"; i.e. Level I is suggested for grades K-1, with 200-300 easy sight words; Level 2 expands to 300-600 words, and more panels on a page; and Level 3, with 800-1000 words used in a longer story divided into chapters.  The series endpapers even provides tips for parents on how to read comics with kids.

Cartoonist Geoffrey Hayes returns to Toon Books with this newest release about a young teddy bear named Patrick.  His earlier Toon books were the Geisel-award-winning Benny and Penny in the Big No No! as well as two other Benny and Penny books.  Like many traditional beginning readers, this book consists of three small stories; in the first, Patrick goes on a picnic with his mother, in the second, Patrick has a nap, and finally Patrick goes to buy cookies at the store, where he confronts a bully.  Hayes' illustrations are simply adorable, and the panels and drawings make the action easy to follow for the earliest readers.  There's plenty of humor, and even some gentle lessons (even bullies can be scared!)

Toon Books has a wonderful website, with tons of resources for using Toon books in the classroom, including a free cartoon maker, reader's theatre, a compilation of graphic novels suitable for summer reading, a special Benny & Penny blog, and more.

As a library worker, I often introduce parents to this series and observe their skeptical faces, looking like "comics can't be serious books for my child to read."  Here's a great quote I should use for these parents, from a mom who wrote into the Benny & Penny blog:

"There is something about a graphic novel or comic-type book that makes reading seem more enjoyable. I was always a little hesitant to bring home graphic novels from the library for my son, Isaac, because I didn’t want him to get used to reading that way and prefer it. But I found a set of graphic novels perfect for the preschool reader by Toon Books….My son took to Benny and Penny in Just Pretend so much that he had it memorized and basically was able to read it on his own after several read-throughs with me. It was really the first book he conquered on his own. We ended up buying it for him to celebrate."


Toon Books is very excited about its new Free I-Phone Apps as well!  Wouldn't these be great for keeping your kids entertained on a long car trip, while waiting at the doctor's office, grocery store, or so many other places?  Here's the scoop below:

Free TOON iPhone apps!

Click on a title below to download the following TOON books from the iTunes store:
Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons, by Agn├Ęs Rosenstiehl
Jack and the Box, by art spiegelman
Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith

Designed by TOON Books, and developed by the highly praised iStorytime team, each app comes preloaded with the complete and unabridged book. The app's navigation is designed for a toddler -- your child can flip through the bright pages with the flick of a finger, all by themselves! From within the app, purchase audio narration by the books' authors or voice actors in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and/or Russian, for hours of read-to-me fun wherever you go -- on the train, in the car, or even at the supermarket. Speech balloons pop up as they're read and favorite panels can be read over and over again. A groundbreaking tool in developing literacy, the TOON Books are perfect for the beginning reader and the pre-reader alike. These FREE iphone apps are also a great way to introduce your friends to the prize-winning TOON books series. So what are you waiting for? Educational entertainment is only a click away!


GIVEAWAY:  Candlewick has generously donated a TOON book for my readers.  If you'd like to enter to win a free copy of Patrick in a Teddy Bear's Picnic and other stories by Geoffrey Hayes, please leave your e-mail in a comment below and let me know your favorite comic book character from your childhood.  Mine was definitely Schroeder from Peanuts!  I loved how he'd pound out Beethoven on that toy piano!  Winner will be selected on June 25 by random number generator.


Disclosure:  Review copy received from publisher.  

3 comments:

Heidi Grange said...

These Toon Books are wonderful. I recently set up a separate section in my library for graphic novels and 'comic' style books, it is by far the most popular section in the library. My favorite comic book character has to be Calvin and Hobbes (you can't have one without the other). He still makes me laugh with his imagination and sly remarks about the world.

Mari said...

I love the Toon Books, too! But, if I had to pick my favorite comic book character it would have to be Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes! I hope I have a kid just like him one day. : )

Megan said...

I was a Charlie Brown fan when I was younger.
mearley1979 at gmail dot com