Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories

By Geoffrey Hayes
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

I am a big fan of Geoffrey Hayes’ Benny and Penny series of comics for younger readers. Sure, they’re meant for first and second graders, but even as an adult I’ve found a lot to love about the books; the graceful storytelling, the beautiful art, the funny jokes. While I knew that Hayes has quite a few other books under his belt, I hadn’t heard of his Patrick series before now. Fortunately, with his new Patrick in A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories, that problem has been fixed.

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Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker

By Geoffrey Hayes
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

A new Benny and Penny book from Geoffrey Hayes is reason to celebrate in my home. Sure, Hayes’s books are intended as children’s books and younger readers. But while reading Benny and Penny in The Toy Breaker, it struck me (yet again) how universal some of the themes and ideas that Hayes uses in his books are to adults as well as children, and between the beautiful art and some of the more subtle moments, there’s a little something for everyone in his books.

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Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework

Written by Nadja Spiegelman
Art by Trade Loeffler
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

I adore the Toon Books line, a series of slim books for younger readers that merge comics and children’s books into a single entity. So now, every time there’s a new publication on the horizon, I found myself eager to read it for myself. In the case of the new Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework, what I wasn’t expecting to find was a slightly educational story starring two aliens. But the more I read it, the more I find myself enjoying it.

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Little Mouse Gets Ready

By Jeff Smith
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

One of the things I appreciated about Toon Books’s line-up from the very beginning was that their books for children are all targeted at different age ranges. For the youngest readers, they’ve already released two books in a landscape (9×6") format, Jack and the Box by Art Spiegelman, and Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl. With Jeff Smith’s Little Mouse Gets Ready, though, the bar for Toon Books’s ages 4-and-up books has most definitely been raised.

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Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!

By Geoffrey Hayes
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

There’s something very comforting about the absolute best children’s books; even if they’re brand new, they can somehow make you feel like you’re back in your childhood, reading a book that you’d loved way back then. Over the years, a lot of children’s books have come across my desk, and ones from Toon Books (with their synthesis of children’s books and comic books) have been some of my favorites. With Geoffrey Hayes’s Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!, once again the rest of the world stopped as I sat down to read a truly excellent children’s book.

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Luke on the Loose

By Harry Bliss
32 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

On the whole I’ve been pretty pleased with the Toon Books lineup of comics and picture books for children, especially titles like Otto’s Orange Day and Stinky. Generally speaking, they’ve grabbed my attention almost instantly, dragging me into the story. I was a little surprised, then, when I read Harry Bliss’s Luke on the Loose. In many ways, I think this is a first for Toon Books—in that while the main story is just average, it’s the re-readability of the book that makes it interesting.

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Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever

Written by Jay Lynch
Art by Dean Haspiel
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

If there’s one thing that kids are good at, it’s fighting with siblings. No matter how much or little they may like each other, I’m willing to wager that at some point they’ve ended up bickering with each other—it’s probably some sort of genetic imperative. Jay Lynch and Dean Haspiel certainly had that very much in mind when they created Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever for the Toon Books line; what better conflict can you have with superheroes when it’s a duo that are also brother and sister?

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Stinky

By Eleanor Davis
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

The best kind of children’s book is one that adults can enjoy equally. Reading Eleanor Davis’s Stinky, the newest addition to the Toon Books line, I can’t help but feel that Davis would agree. When I was reading Stinky, my initial thought was how much I’d have loved this book as a child. My second thought was how much I was enjoying it as an adult.

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Otto’s Orange Day

Written by Jay Lynch
Art by Frank Cammuso
40 pages, color
Published by Toon Books

Françoise Mouly is known for all sorts of accomplishments; being the co-editor and publisher of the independent comics anthology RAW, a lengthy stint as the art director for The New Yorker, curator of art exhibits. I must admit, though, that when I hear her name one of the first things that leaps to mind for me is her work on the Little Lit series of books, taking both cartoonists and children’s book creators and having them collaborate to create short stories using the comic book format but pushed through the children’s book market. Now, Mouly’s done it again with her new line of Toon Books, creating children’s books that are told using comic books’s sequential art. When the end result is like Jay Lynch and Frank Cammuso’s Otto’s Orange Day, well, it’s hard to believe that more people aren’t doing just this.

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