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TOON LEVEL: 2
INTEREST LEVEL: Age 4+
READING LEVEL: Grades 1-2
LEXILE LEVEL: 270
GUIDED READING LEVEL: J
AUTHOR: Philippe Coudray
DIMENSIONS: 6" x 9"
SERIES: Benjamin Bear
About the Book
Benjamin Bear does everything in his own funny way, whether it's drying dishes on a rabbit’s back or sharing his sweater without taking it off. In this series of gags starring a very loopy bear, Philippe Coudray creates a zany world that makes kids think and solve puzzles, drawing all readers into the game.
For more Benjamin Bear...
Our Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking Common Core Guide contains the ELA Common Core Standards, a Lesson Plan, and Student Activity Sheet 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
Philippe Coudray loves drawing comics, and his many children's books are often used in the schools of France, his home country. In fact, his work was chosen by elementary school students for the prestigious Angoulême 'Prix des Ecoles'. Philippe has a twin brother, Jean-Luc who is also a humorist, and they relish any opportunity to collaborate on children's books and comics.
Although he lives in Bordeaux, Philippe does not especially like wine. He does enjoy painting, creating stereo images, and traveling each year to Canada where he searches for Bigfoot. Though he continues to search each year, Benjamin Bear will always be his favorite wild animal.
"The latest entry in the TOON Books line of emerging-reader comics pushes a whole new sort of envelope: outré humor for the early grade-school set. These single-page strips starring a peculiar bear and his critter pals will feel fresh to young readers not just because the jokes rely on incisive understatement rather than broad-stroke exaggeration but also because the humor requires a bit of work to arrive at the surprising, sometimes sophisticated, and yet rarely out-of-reach punch lines. Some of the gags may fly over kids’ heads at first, but the pleasure of finding the funny by deciphering visual cues will keep them coming back. The final page, in which Benjamin Bean explains that he would never read a comic book—it is a rather boring thing for a star of a comic strip to do to his readers—is an especially elegant use of a handful of words in three compact panels, and it demonstrates exactly what makes comics such a winning bet for kids. They’re just plain fun, see."
"A visually formatted joke book to inspire thinking as well as laughs."
"It is original [and] deep-down funny...most important, the adventures are steeped in the rare quality of imaginative kindness."
--The Horn Book Magazine
"Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, by Philippe Coudray (Toon Books) is actually just the opposite of what the title says: The bear is there, all right, but the thinking is anything but fuzzy. Each page is a little logic problem of some sort, and the last panel is often a little 'Aha!' moment for the reader... Each page has a little twist to it like that, some sort of puzzle or analogy, and I can’t help but think that reading it would make any kid smarter... Coudray has a nice style, sort of a stepped-down ligne claire, with flat areas of color and less detail than, say, Tintin—which is appropriate, given that the book is aimed at first- and second-graders."
--Robot6 (Comic Book Resources)
"The simple stories inside the book follow sweet, kindly Benjamin and his menagerie of friends as they do such things as fly a kite, fish, play games, and go sailing. It’s all pretty simple and straightforward, which is nice, and gives young readers a lot to grasp unto (the stories also give parents plenty of opportunity to act out if they are reading them to their kids). The colors are beautifully done as well --- muted, pleasing and lovely.
The stories were originally done in French by painter and artist Philippe Coudray and here have been translated into English. As one would expect, they provide excellent reading material for young kids just starting out with the language. The images will help solidify those reading skills."
”French comic book artist Philippe Coudray has created a funny and lovable character in Benjamin Bear. The easy-to-read comics published by Toon Books are a fun way for new readers to explore the world of graphic novels. For beginning readers.”
--Victorian Times Colonist
"With all the content, this book is a great value with a lot of imaginative situations. It’ll encourage a new way of looking at the world for the reader, focused on problem-solving with what you have and teamwork. This was my favorite of the bunch, because it had the most to think about."
--Comics Worth Reading
"This is another winner from Toon Books. Their graphic novel line up for elementary aged children manages to be funny, smart and perfectly age appropriate. Originally published in France, this graphic novel has a certain elegance and style. Each comic in the book ranges from three to six panels, telling small stories in a quick, simple way. The humor ranges from a quiet contemplative joke about friendship to a physical slap-stick style. Coudray has woven those styles together so the book moves from one level to another seamlessly, creating a dynamic and surprising reading effect.
Coudray's humor is multi-faceted and great fun to read. The book moves from one sort of humor to another with great ease. The illustrations are colorful but in a more sophisticated palette than many children's books. A lot of the humor is physical, so the illustrations convey much of it. Even in the broadest of slapstick, there is a feel of style that makes it a unique read.
The book is laugh-out-loud funny and also great fun to share aloud with children. This is a graphic novel that belongs in all public libraries, because it is a great hook for reluctant readers."
--Waking Brain Cells
"Each little scene with Benjamin Bear was so creative, it actually causes the reader to think. Benjamin Bear certainly has some "fuzzy thinking." For each situation he faces, Benjamin Bear comes up with some pretty unconventional (and unexpected) solutions to his problems. This book is smart and funny and sure to be a hit with youngsters!
If you are looking for a very fun way to get your child to read, I highly recommend the entire Toon Books library!"
"There are small adventures here to be discovered, in a collection that’s a series of single page comic strips. Some are simple little sweet and funny moments. Others use little visual gags to get the reader’s attention.
But what makes Benjamin Bear truly interesting, and unique amongst the Toon Books series so far is just how inventive, how strangely surreal some of Coudray’s strips are. So many of them deliver gentle punchlines that require no small amount of interesting thinking, especially when you consider the target audience.
All in all, Benjamin Bear is rather a puzzle, or perhaps a better description would be a series of visual puzzles, all waiting to be deciphered by a young mind. I think they’ll adore the book, no matter what their exact level of understanding."
"A perfect introduction, not just to comics, but to reading in general, and are absolutely loved by the emerging readers coming into the library from Years 1, 2, and 3!
Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking is a series of comics, linked to lots of things that people will find familiar. In the book Benjamin is the main character, but he’s joined by various animals including a rabbit, cow, polar bear, birds, fish, and even the man in the moon! In each strip Benjamin has some problem to solve and uses his brain to come up with a solution….
Benjamin Bear has lovely, detailed artwork. It’s simple but very pretty, with lots of interesting colors over the pages to make the story stand out. It’s also very funny at times. The structure is very well thought out as well, with different length strips, lots of different topics and ideas."
--Forbidden Plant International Young Critics
"Benjamin Bear and his friends find humor and friendship in a variety of scenarios. This book is made up of one-page comic strip-style stories full of whimsy. Coudray is French, and I found that these do have a continental flavor. The stories are certainly age appropriate and strike me as the kind of humor I would have enjoyed as a young child. So while there isn't a lot there for adults, I think this is another winner for the preschool set.
TOON Books are stories in comic book form for young readers. The series advisor is Art Spiegelman, author of the well-regarded Maus graphic novels. Each TOON Book has been vetted by educators and is recommended for elementary school-aged children. I love the idea of introducing children to the comic book/graphic novel form and highly recommend TOON Books to early readers."
--The Bluestocking Society
"Benjamin Bear is engaging, age appropriate in reading level and interest, and flat-out funny.
As the title indicates, some folks might describe Benjamin Bear's thinking as fuzzy. Others might see it as outside the box. Kids won't care. They'll be too busy laughing...
Traditional graphic novels and comic books tell stories--longer narratives sometimes broken between issues or separated into episodes in one book. Benjamin Bear is a series of unrelated one-pagers. Think Sunday comics. More than the three-panel weekday comics, but much less than a full graphic novel.
All thanks to his fuzzy thinking."
--Help Readers Love Reading
"French cartoonist Coudray offers a series of comic strip vignettes that are surprisingly cerebral in their tone... Coudray is also a master of illustrating the sequential form to kids with his perfect pacing and the time unaccounted for between the panels. It's a great book for kids who can settle in and approach a book as an exploration."
--The North Adams Transcript
"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 antics of Benjamin Bear feel unique. This French comic book, now translated into English, follows Benjamin Bear through a series of eccentric short stories that each fit one page. Benjamin goes through his life doing things one oughtn’t to do but having no understanding of why."
"Think Far Side for the elementary school set. Each page is one joke, mostly driven by Benjamin's offbeat take on the world. The jokes are mostly visual, which makes them perfect for the comic medium, and Coudray's simple art is perfect for delivering punch lines."
--School Library Journal
"Fuzzy Thinking is laid out as a series of jokes, with a new humorous situation on each page...Philippe Coudray’s illustrations do an excellent job of supporting the text to aid in comprehension."
--Library Media Connection
"The book is surprisingly funny for adults even as kids should appreciate its goofy view of the world that is rather similar to theirs, and it makes use of its medium seriously. This is not just a picture book; it is definitely a comic book."
"When it comes to easy-reader books, there is no such thing as too simple or too sophisticated. The best of them combine recognizable characters, approachable language and jokes using both words and pictures that appeal to bright young minds without making them feel mired in vocabulary that’s way over their heads... The book is loaded with visual jokes and dreamlike encounters but anchored in straightforward language. There’s no moral and no plot – just quirky humor and colorful art that lead readers from one bear encounter to the next, until they reach the end."
"In this adorable book of comic gags, a loopy bear looks at life from the far side. Benjamin Bear is a problem-solver, and no matter what life throws at him, he works it out in an endearing, offbeat way... Benjamin never misses a beat, and he's as clever as he is silly... Every page is a new cartoon with four to seven panels. Some panels have conversation bubbles with short sentences and sound words, others are wordless. Here and there, a rabbit friend hops into a comic to bounce off humor or to keep him company. Readers will be drawn to Benjamin's silly, matter-of-fact approach to problem-solving and to how comfortable he is in his own fur."
--Where the Best Books Are!
"Anthropomorphized animals are nothing new in children’s literature—least of all anthropomorphized bears—but the antics of Benjamin Bear feel unique. This French comic book, now translated into English, follows Benjamin Bear through a series of eccentric short stories that each fit one page. Benjamin goes through his life doing things one oughtn’t to do but having no understanding of why... This leads to some silly, lighthearted humor. At other times the comics turn to rumination... The words are mostly fairly simple, and it’s aimed for preschool and above. All of the pictures are in color, and while they’re not overly detailed, Coudray is meticulous with background landscape."
"Benjamin Bear is one unique bear, and he's going to be a star. He's witty. He's logical. He thinks outside the box. And he's captured my heart. In fact, I would bet on Benjamin Bear. He's about to capture a lot of hearts in his starring role of Toon Books' latest early reader comic book success.
Endearingly oblivious to his own uniqueness, Benjamin Bear outsmarts not only his friends, but also his readers. Presented with a familiar plethora of life's daily adventures, riddles, and puzzles readers will see themselves reflected in Benjamin Bear. What will he do when he wants to catch a fish, stay warm, or be a good friend? I know what I would do. You know what you would do. But Benjamin Bear has a better answer, every single time.
Benjamin Bear is more than charming and witty, however. He engages and teaches readers problem-solving skills grounded in the core content areas of Science, Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts. How do we think through problems, solve mysteries, reflect on precedents, and rationalize our answers?
If I were to place a call to my friend Francoise Mouly (Editorial Director of Toon Books) I would ask her to continue telling the stories of Benjamin Bear. Benjamin Bear feels like a friend, a good friend. He makes me think, sometimes twice. He makes me smile. And I miss him already."
--Victorian Times Colonist
"Even without seeing the author’s name, you would know this new offering from Toon Books is thoroughly European just from its sensibility... Benjamin is neither realistic as a bear (he’s very simplified) nor overly cute, although the impression as a whole is exceedingly cozy and sweet. What he does have is an odd way of problem-solving... The book is surprisingly funny for adults even as kids should appreciate its goofy view of the world that is rather similar to theirs, and it makes use of its medium seriously. This is not just a picture book; it is definitely a comic book.
"TOON BOOKS hits another home run with their latest offering, Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray. This book had me and my son in stitches when read it together. If you can imagine a little bit of the zaniness of Elephant & Piggie rubbing off on the bear from I Want My Hat Back who has chosen to befriend rabbits, not eat them, then you can begin to get a feel for Benjamin and how he operates. The book is made up of thirty-one single page adventures that range from subtle to deadpan to silly to sweet. I think that Benjamin really speaks for himself..."
"I have been a children's bookseller at Barnes & Noble for over sixteen years and am passionate about kid's books. However, as the mother of a seven year old boy, I am eternally grateful to Francoise Mouly for her genius idea. My son is just getting interested in trying to read on his own and, while we always read the TOON books together, Benjamin is the first that he's picked up on his own and read!"
"Four panels, eighteen words, one page, and a full story with desire, a journey, danger, and a 'hey, presto' conjurer's denouement. In these twenty-seven single-page stories Coudray creates a set of visual haiku featuring Benjamin and a variety of his friends. An appended 'Tips for Parents and Teachers' and the series name, 'Easy-to-Read Comics,' tell us that this is for emerging readers. The care given to binding, endpapers, and paper make it look like a picture book. The koan-like content suggests something like lateral thinking for tots. The whole enterprise lies somewhere between fuzzy-wuzzy was a bear and an introduction to fuzzy logic. It is original, deep-down funny, and, most important, the adventures are steeped in the rare quality of imaginative kindness."
--The Horn Book
"This book is hilarious... You really have to see the jokes to appreciate them, though. Sight gags abound. Highly recommended for lovers of jokey comics."
"Young fans of comics will enjoy this French import, a collection of one-page graphic stories about Benjamin Bear and his various animal friends. The humor is simple enough for young children to grasp, yet clever enough for older readers to appreciate. There is a slapstick quality to the action that combines nicely with the unexpected ways that Benjamin Bear solves his problems. The drawings are full color and engaging. An excellent introduction to the world of graphic novels for primary students."
"I was just so struck by the cover that I had to sit and gaze at it for a little while. These colors are wonderfully sophisticated... The shapes, too, have fashion and elegance to them. The curve of the bear's upper back and the way it dips at the small, with the arms sort of hyperextended forward... The refrigerator bows outward in every direction, inflated gently like a taffeta skirt... A joke a page, in three to six panels. Some of the jokes are funny, some are merely droll, and some are just simple, lovely, unexpected exemplars of cooperation and friendship."
"Silly and dignified, Benjamin Bear does everything in his own whimsical way, from raking leaves with a bare tree to drying dishes on his rabbit friend’s back. Young readers will adore this series of gags starring a truly unique bear."
--The Graphic Novel Reporter