Penny and Her Song written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, RL 1.5

Penny and Her Song is now in paperback!!

I am so excited that, with Penny and Her Song, Kevin Henkes has written his first book for emerging readers. This man is so talented, across the board, and this seemed to be the one genre he hadn't tackled. Besides being a wonderful illustrator, he writes picture books with a range of complexity as well as chapter books for a range of readers. As I mentioned recently in The Changing Face of Board Books, Henkes is a genius when it comes to a seemingly uncomplicated, simple plot that is ultimately full of meaning and Penny and Her Song is no exception. Two chapters long, Penny and Her Song has the repetition of simple words that you would expect in a beginning reader book and, as I have come to expect from a book by Kevin Henkes, thoughtful parents who lovingly say "no"when they have to but also say "yes" in a way that acknowledges and affirms. 

Penny comes home from school with a song she wants to sing to her parents. Mama greets her at the door but asks her to wait to sing her song because the babies are sleeping. When she sees her Papa he says the same thing. Penny goes to her room, shuts the doors and starts to sing. But she wants someone to listen to her. She sings to the mirror but that feels wrong. She sings to her glass animals but that doesn't work either. Then she "moved her glass animals around on the top of her dresser. She almost forgot about her song.
Chapter Two starts at dinner time and it's still not a good time for Penny to sing. Finally, after dinner, Penny sings her song and it is a song that is exactly like what you would imagine a preschool or kindergartener to make up. Mama and Papa compliment Penny as do the babies, in their own baby way. Then Penny sang her song again. Then everyone sang her song, with the babies singing their own baby way. Then they all did a little show with costumes, but the babies wore what they were wearing. Exhausted, every one heads off to bed. As Penny is being tucked in she asks, "Will I remember my song in the morning?" They both answer, "Yes." 

The book ends with these words that accompany the picture below,

 "And they were right, Penny remembered her song. Beautifully."

Penny and Her Doll is out now in hardcover and 
Penny and Her Marble is due out February, 2013!

Two of the first picture book character dolls I bought were Lily and Julis, from Henkes' Julius, Baby of the World and, of course, Lily's Purple Plastic Purse. Now that my daughter is nineteen, I have less reasons to buy these dolls, but look how cute this Penny doll is!

You can find her and other really wonderfully made picture book related toys at Merrymakers.

Source: Review Copy

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