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TOON LEVEL: 2
INTEREST LEVEL: Age 4+
READING LEVEL: Grades 1-2
LEXILE LEVEL: BR
GUIDED READING LEVEL: M
AUTHOR: Philippe Coudray
DIMENSIONS: 6" x 9"
SERIES: Benjamin Bear
Our Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas Common Core Guide contains the ELA Common Core Standards to support standards-based instruction in the classroom. Our free guides are designed by a team of passionate literacy experts who specialize in classroom instruction for grades K-3.
About the Author
Phillipe Coudray loves drawing comics and working with his twin brother Jean-Luc, who is also a humorist. Philippe’s books are often used in the schools of France, his home country, where Benjamin Bear’s French cousin, Barnabé, has won many prizes. In the U.S., Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking was nominated for an Eisner Award.
When he was younger, Philippe spent many of his family vacations in the mountains. He says, "I wanted to write a story about a bear because I love drawing the mountains where they live." In addition to his annual trip to Canada in search of Bigfoot, he enjoys creating stereoscopic images, and researching mythical creatures and other strange beasts.
"Each page is a new comic-book adventure with hilarious Benjamin Bear, his companion Rabbit, and many other forest friends. Kids will laugh out loud at Benjamin as he solves problems in zany, often misguided, ways. Sure to get a giggle: Rabbit bets him that he can't bring him a squirrel so Benjamin uproots the whole tree and carries it to his friend. The artwork was created using India ink and colored digitally to excellent effect; the animals' expressions are perfectly rendered and the pictures are sometimes the whole story, in a couple of wordless comics. A funny, smart little book that is definitely interesting enough to hold the attention of reluctant readers."
--School Library Journal
"New readers will be served by the balance of story between speech bubbles and (needfully exact) illustrations; sometimes one provides the payoff and sometimes the other, but comprehension of both together is always required….This book rewards what six-year-olds are already good at (scrutiny), encourages a new skill (reading), and enlarges the imagination (heaven)."
--The Horn Book Magazine
"Bright Ideas is Coudray's second offering through Toon Books, following 2011's Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, and it offers more of the same, which, given the high quality of Fuzzy Thinking, is high praise indeed. Coudray's artwork has an almost diagram-like simplicity to it, the flat space and characters and just-enough details appearing highly reminiscent of classic newspaper cartooning, with gentle, natural-world characters and situations and a just off-kilter sense of humor that should appeal to any comics reader who falls under the 'up' part of the suggested readership of '4 and up.'"
--School Library Journal
"I have read this book so many times since getting it and it never gets less funny. I only wish it had been like quadruple the size because it really is a great book and so much fun to read. I think kids of all ages will also get a lot of laughs when they read this book. It's simple, colorful, and very entertaining."
--Sacramento Kids Book Review
"Some of the adventures are laugh out loud funny, some are more thoughtful, while some involve creative solutions to problems. This would be a good spring board for having students write creative solutions to various problems. Can't wait to share this with children in my school."
--Ann H., Goodreads
"The artwork in the book is clear and lends itself to easily being understood by all ages. I am happy to recommend this book to everyone who knows how to look for the laughter in everyday life."
"The book is funny and entertaining. Bear will motivate young readers to develop problem solving skills. A good book for story time with graphic pictures and details."
"Benjamin is always getting himself into problematic predicaments, whether it's trying to knit a sheep a sweater or visit a fish's underwater house. Coudray's bright colours and adorable cast of characters are a sheer delight."
--Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore
"The clever bear and his assorted crew of animal pals from Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking (2011) return for another collection of single-page strips, each one a marvel of economy in setup, delivery, and payoff….The cleanly articulated lines, stoic but cuddly critters, and simple coloring could have come from just about any era—and, indeed, the artist has been working for decades in his native France—but feel right at home in this one. Honing a well-rounded sense of humor may be just as important as any other aspect of childhood learning, and you'll find no finer choice for that than the ingenious exploits of this very clever bear."
"In best improv fashion, the action takes a 'yes, and' turn, encounters some kind of opposition and then winds up in a punchline that directly comments on the premise in an unexpected manner. Sometimes he does this with no dialogue at all, using a simple visual to establish the premise. Again, this is a comic that forces the reader to read each panel carefully and make cognitive leaps in order to understand the punchline."
"A companion to Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking (2011), 27 more wise and witty minimalist fables drawn (with added dialogue and other minor changes) from French cartoonist Coudray’s original series. Presented, mostly, in three to six cleanly drawn panels, each mini-tale features Benjamin (Barnabé in the original French) and one or more smaller animals interacting in outdoorsy settings. Most of the storytelling is visual, with just an occasional comment in a balloon, and many of the single-page episodes have an Aesopian flavor. In 'Can I Get a Ride?' he picks up one woodland hitchhiker after another until, in the last panel, tables turn and they have to carry him. In 'See-Saw,' he 'helps' a fox carry a log (and demonstrates a principle of physics) not by lifting the long end, but by hopping onto the short end. In response to a rabbit's philosophical proposition that you can't make 'Something out of Nothing,' he makes a hole and a pile of dirt: 'TWO things!' In a deft comment on narcissism, Benjamin agrees to let the rabbit paint his portrait around the trunk of a tree—so that the image ends up staring at its own butt. Emergent readers won't be the only audience delighted by these winning combinations of humor and thought-provoking twists."