A family learns about accepting and accommodating differences in this fourth installment of a picture-book series.
Princess Penelope gets along well with her brothers, Stewie and Zoom, which is easy because they enjoy doing the same things. But we’re not all alike, as Penelope’s teacher explains: “Everyone’s mind is something to appreciate, and it is important to have some fun with other kids who may seem to like very different things than you do.” Penelope has her doubts, but when her mother invites a classmate on the autism spectrum for a play date, she and her brothers are game. Welcoming someone with Eric’s sensitivities doesn’t come naturally for the boisterous siblings, but the get-together goes well, even when their classmate becomes overwhelmed at one point. The book includes play-date tips for neurotypical families and for parents of special needs kids. The team of Bronstein and Young (Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope: The Case of the Eweey, Gooey, Gross and Very Stinky Experiment, 2016, etc.) is realistic about such matters as the need to practice skills like using quiet voices or being flexible: “Stewie and I practiced not pitching a fit. It took some practicing,” says Penelope dryly. The children’s quick acceptance of behaviors like Eric’s arm flapping may be overly rosy, but the book does help prepare neurotypical kids for what to expect—including having fun. Young’s delightfully comic, affectionate illustrations with a diverse cast support and enrich the story.
A useful and compassionate tale about inclusivity for kids and parents.