Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy


Children - Animals
28 Pages
Reviewed on 11/07/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ms.Buffolino is a New York based author. Transitioning from novel writing to childrens books. Her first book was a concept book, an "Ice Breaker Book" to discuss with children acceptance of differences. Her new book, Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is a light hearted book meant to entertain and de-stress with light laughter and colorful pictures as you spend a day at the zoo with our main character.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is an adorable children’s picture book written by Raffaella Buffolino and illustrated by Michael Monochello. Johnnie is a tough little guy, and he isn’t afraid of anything – bugs, storms, monsters, not even the kid next door. When his mom says they’re going to visit the zoo that day, Johnnie decides to find an animal there that’s as tough as he feels he is. They go early and so there are no crowds and long lines of visitors. Johnnie and his mom have the place to themselves. Johnnie visits a number of exhibits – the lion, the gorilla, the giraffe, the snakes, the elephants, the hippos – and tries to decide who is the toughest guy there… He thinks about what the zookeeper said about the lion; even in a cage, the lion was still the king. Johnnie wonders if he is as tough as the lion. Is he the king of the house, like the lion? The answer will surprise readers.

This is a delightful book that gives children food for thought as Johnnie examines each animal and comes to his own conclusion about it. I liked that Johnnie had his own opinions and related each animal to his experiences or people in his life. The illustrations are well done and brightly colored, the type that grabs a young reader’s attention and makes them want to discover more. The cartoon images above each actual animal image are just wonderful and I loved the imaginative take on the rat and the snake. There is a lot for children to explore in each illustration and these offer topics for debate. Parents and teachers can use this book for further discussion, as well as some research into wildlife. This is a delightful, deceptively simple tale that offers youngsters a lot more than at first glance.

Jack Magnus

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is a children’s animal picture book written by Raffaella Buffolino and illustrated by Michael Monochello. Johnnie was naturally a tough guy. He woke up in the morning, flexed his biceps and challenged his teddy bear to see otherwise. Teddy was never foolish enough to disagree; however, nor was just about any kid Johnnie knew. Today would be an exciting day for him and his mom. After they had breakfast, they’d be going to the zoo. Johnnie’s mom wondered if he’d be tougher than all the animals in the zoo. Johnnie was pretty confident that his tough guy image was the best. The giraffe, while tall, was dismissed by the funny image of a giraffe with its head stuck in a tree; the elephants seemed entirely too placid and a little stinky, and the gorilla looked like he was working out in a gym. But then they were nearly at the lion exhibit. Was Johnnie as tough as a lion? The zookeeper warned Johnnie that that lion was a pretty tough customer -- Johnnie would have to think about that.

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is a fun look at the animals in the zoo through the eyes of Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy, who seems to have all the answers and all the toughness he could ever need. I loved seeing how he reacts to each animal exhibit and appreciated how his mom was supportive in just the right ways. Could Johnnie see himself as the king of his jungle? Finding out how he resolved that question is lots of fun. Buffolino’s plot is absorbing, and Michael Monochello’s illustrations work quite well with the story. He gives Johnnie a variety of fitting facial expressions and makes those zoo animals come to life. This is a grand selection for story hour but it’s also suitable for a new reader to try on their own. Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is most highly recommended.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy by Raffaella Buffolino depicts the world through the eyes of a child. Johnnie is a good little boy who desires to be tough. Johnnie and his mother take a trip to the zoo. Johnnie examines each animal he sees, eagerly looking for the toughest animal. Going from one exhibit to the next, Johnnie carefully compares himself to all the animals. Johnnie’s adventure takes him on a journey of discovery as he realizes who truly reigns supreme.

Raffaella Buffolino creates an amusing story in Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy. The title of the book certainly sets the tone of the story. Johnnie is a bright and curious little boy, full of witty and insightful conclusions about the animals. The main theme of the story is toughness. Johnnie’s mom even questions him: “Do you think you are tough enough?” This story challenges the child reader to consider their personal strength.

As I read, I pondered the various synonyms of toughness: durable, firm, and hard. After some thought, I became curious as to how a child would define tough. So as with all children’s books I review, I asked my grandchildren to read the story and tell me what they thought. They both liked it. Then I asked them to tell me what tough meant. My granddaughter described tough as strong, like in karate, while my grandson defined tough as brave. Both of their responses were similar to Johnnie’s character – Mr. Tough Guy. The illustrations are colorful and captivating and for the most part relate well with the words. As the story concludes, it has a happy and meaningful ending. Johnnie learns a valuable lesson about toughness.

K.C. Finn

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy is an illustrated children’s book on the theme of animals by author Raffaella Buffolino and illustrator Michael Monochello. The progression of the story follows a little boy named Johnnie on a day when his mother takes him to visit the zoo. On their day out, Johnnie’s mother helps him on a quest to find out what the toughest animal at the zoo is, therefore impressing Johnnie the most. As they explore different exhibits, Johnnie imagines the animals beyond what he sees, thinking of the things they do that make them tough. But the journey takes an unexpected twist the more animals he sees, making this a fun learning journey with a theme of changing perspectives.

Raffaella Buffolino writes clearly and with great awareness of the level of vocabulary required for a picture book, ensuring that her text is very suitable for the target age of the story. Michael Monochello’s illustrations are also an absolute winner, drawn and inked with beautiful colours and plenty of emotion on the faces of the characters. Johnnie’s imagination as he interacts with the many different zoo animals is super amusing and will be sure to catch the attention of young readers, many of whom are likely to agree with Johnnie’s ideas. Overall, when reading Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy, I’m sure a parent and child could really enjoy it!

Mamta Madhavan

Johnnie knew it was time to wake up. He could feel the warmth of the sun touching his face. He went to the kitchen and his mom told him that they were going to the zoo. Mom told him that hopefully they would find an animal as tough as Johnnie. The zoo had just opened when they reached it and hence there were no long lines and no large crowds. They headed straight to the animals. Johnnie and his mom walked around the zoo and they saw the giraffe, elephant, snake, lion, gorilla, and hippopotamus in the zoo. Mom wondered if Johnnie was tough like the snake but Johnnie thought he was the tough good guy and not a bad guy like the snake. They kept checking and finally Johnnie told his mom who he thought was the toughest. Who did he think was tough like him?

Johnnie Mr. Tough Guy by Raffaella Buffolino is a simple story with some interesting twists and I am sure just as I enjoyed looking at the animals in the zoo through Johnnie’s eyes, young readers will also like doing it. Children have their own way of looking at the things around them and this story speaks about the unique perceptions children can have while observing, just the way Johnnie does. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story will encourage readers to visit their local zoo and have a look at the animals there. It is a good storybook for bedtime storytelling and classroom read aloud sessions. Children can surprise when it comes to making choices and in this story Johnnie’s choice of the toughest guy is surprising.