By Geoffrey Hayes
Toon Books, $12.95, 32 pages
Some of my most cherished memories include all the time I spent reading with my grandparents as a child. It was during one of those special reading sessions that I discovered the work of Geoffrey Hayes, author, illustrator and creator of one of my favorite characters – a funny, opinionated, adventurous bear named Patrick. The story I read year ago was Patrick Eats His Peas. I hadn’t seen the book for over 20 years. Thanks to Toon Books, Geoffrey Hayes’ work is being reprinted in a beautiful collection – Patrick Eats His Peas and Other Stories.
The other tales mentioned in the title include Patrick Helps Out, Patrick Takes a Bath, and Patrick Goes to Bed. Whether Patrick is trying to persuade Ma that his peas are little green balls of mushy poison, giving Daddy a hand in the yard, flinging soapy tub water all over the bathroom, or trying to convince his parents that he isn’t sleepy, kids will recognize a bit of themselves in the sweet, funny bear. Parents and teachers will appreciate the included tips on how to read comics with kids. For example, you can “Ham it up! Think of the comic book story as a play and don’t hesitate to read with expression and intonation.”
This Level 2 book in the “Toon Into Reading” series introduces children in first and second grade to easy-to-read comics. A Level 2 book is always 300-600 words long with short sentences and repetition and 1-4 comic panels per page. The few characters within the story arc interact together in a small world. Each speech bubble has no more than about 14 words (most have 3-7 words). Hayes uses vocabulary that is age-appropriate and kids will feel proud when they can read through the all four stories using context clues to help them figure out the meaning of any unknown words.
Hayes works with colored pencils which gives his illustrations a whimsical, comical look. He has Patrick’s expressions down to an art. You can tell when the little bear is mad (No more peas, please!), happy and sleepy. If you fall in love with Patrick as I did so long ago, look for Patrick In A Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Other Stories for more furry fun.
Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin