Benny and Penny in Just Pretend, by Geoffrey Hayes, is an early-reader graphic novel about two siblings and the efforts of the younger child, Penny, to join her brother in “playing pretend.” Constructing pretend worlds is part of many children’s childhoods – I remember when my children wouldn’t answer me unless I addressed them as “Darth Vader” or whomever they were pretending to be. And, of course, younger siblings efforts to get their older brothers and sisters to include and accept them is also part of many children’s experiences.

The story raises questions about why we create pretend worlds, the lines between pretending and getting lost in fantasies, the differences between playing alone and playing with others, how siblings understand one another, and how our relationships with other people change us.

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