On their first play date, two girls have vastly different ideas about what their dolls can and should do.
The hostess, a brown-skinned girl with puffy red hair whose “perfect” bedroom is princess themed, owns a Princess Penelope doll that wears an evening gown and “real glass slippers.” The guest, an Asian girl wearing a dinosaur T-shirt, brought her Penny doll too—only hers wears a black motorcycle jacket, boots, and sunglasses. Readers will note that each doll resembles her owner. The dolls take over in the illustrations, with alternating black and purple text showing the girls’ suggestions for play. Princess Penelope wants to host a tea party and ride ponies. But Penny “isn’t a princess” and doesn’t have a pony. She’s a secret agent with a racing bike. Their ideas of fun clash, but when a werewolf appears in the kingdom, Penelope shows that she’s not “just a princess.” The two team up, using the Princess’ resourcefulness and Penny’s skills to save the day. The watercolor illustrations move from a pastel-dominated palette interrupted by Penny’s black suit to a green countryside and back again, skillfully transforming characters, expressions, and settings. The theme of merging girly things with smarts and power is rightly popular right now; this action-packed romp through two girls’ imaginations is a fun addition to the collection.
Delightfully clever. (Picture book. 4-9)