Review posted May 17, 2012.
Greenwillow Books, 2012. 32 pages.
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Picture Books
I've already found the book I want to win the Geisel Award for a book for beginning readers this year. I received a copy of this book at ALA Midwinter Meeting and fell in love with it. Then I got to hear Kevin Henkes speak about his work and particularly this series he is starting for beginning readers, and my love only increased.
The book begins like this:
Penny came home from school
with a song.
"Listen, Mama," said Penny.
"It's my very own song."
But right then is not a good time for Penny to sing her song. The babies are sleeping. Papa tells Penny the same thing. So Penny goes to her room and tries singing to herself in the mirror. She tries singing to her glass animals. "That didn't work." In the second chapter, the babies are awake, so Penny tries singing her song at the dinner table. Mama and Papa both tell her not to sing during dinner.
But after dinner, Penny and her song get all the attention they deserve. I particularly like this page:
"That was beautiful!" said Mama
"That was wonderful!" said Papa.
The babies made baby noises.
"Thank you," said Penny.
The whole family enjoys singing the song, and it has a lovely gentle ending that brings things full circle.
One thing I loved about this book was Penny reminded me of myself as a little girl. No, I didn't make up my own songs (Well, at least not to share.), but I did play "Little Marcy" records and dance all around the house, singing along with Little Marcy. I can also relate to having to be quiet while babies were sleeping.
This book just makes me happy.
And I would love to try it out on beginning readers. Though I think it would work great for Storytime as well. Kevin Henkes explained that he put in two chapters because beginning readers love the accomplishment of finishing a chapter. He is writing further books about Penny that will get progressively a little more challenging.
But I have already found a friend.