Recommended for ages 4-8
While playing outside, Penny discovers Little Red, a salamander, has died. She’s upset, but her brother, Benny, seems more irritated by Little Red – and Penny’s grief – than anything else. Penny and her friend Melina bury Little Red and hold a little ceremony for him, which stirs up mixed feelings for Benny.
This latest book in the Benny and Penny early graphic novel series takes on the tumultuous emotions that death can stir up: grief being one, and guilt being another. These feelings are often overwhelming to adults; to children, they must feel like a tidal wave. Benny remembers times he was unkind to Little Red, which triggers his grief. Benny’s guilt motivates him to take part in Little Red’s memorial, and Mr. Hayes gives Benny, Penny, and readers a bright spot to end on.
There are some great books on dealing with grief and loss with children: most recently, Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird and Ida, Always, by Caron Levis. Each book speaks beautifully to children, and each handles grief differently – just like people do. How to Say Goodbye is a sensitive look at dealing with strong feelings in the wake of loss. An important addition to graphic novel collections and readers advisory lists.
There will be an educator’s guide closer to the book’s publication. Keep an eye on the Benny and Penny TOON Page for details.
Benny and Penny is an award-winning early graphic novel series. Benny and Penny in the Big No-No received the 2010 Theodore Geisel Award.