A character, bored of the piece of paper she exists on, ventures forth.

From pigtails (three, going straight upward) through football-shaped head and skinny limbs to high heels, Penny is entirely made up of rainbow-colored scribbly lines. No wonder she finds it so monotonous to loll about on an undecorated white sheet of paper. Her eyelids droop with ennui. However, Penny’s “plain piece of paper” is anything but. Slightly smaller than—and set askew from—the page of Leshem-Pelly’s actual book, Penny’s piece of paper has mild crinkles and the faint shading that those crinkles bring, creating an optical illusion that begs to be touched. It seems impossible for Leshem-Pelly’s page to feel perfectly smooth, but of course it does. Penny visits other types of paper: an amusingly dull and pompous newspaper, a map with trompe-l’oeil folds, a coloring book. All are hyper-realistic in their portrayal of the material, and each forces an oppressive aesthetic rule on Penny. The arc’s explicit message (“Let’s make our own rules!”) is forgettable, but Penny’s journey through varying visual styles is bright, fascinating, and funny, especially when she busts out of a geometric shape that graph paper bullies her into or when a pair of children (one black, one white) cheerfully offers gifts—and offers gifts, and offers gifts. Their textured and confettied realm is, of course, wrapping paper with a repeating design.

Irresistibly touchable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-81272-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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