Fans of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor (and twist endings!) will enjoy time spent with Penelope.

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WE DON'T EAT OUR CLASSMATES

When a young T. Rex named Penelope starts school, she learns some lessons about her classmates; most importantly, they are not for eating.

Higgins’ starts out as most back-to-school books do: A nervous youngster equipped with an awesome new backpack and hearty lunch worries about her classmates. But then the orange-and-white dino, who’s clad in pink overalls, is taken aback to find that all her classmates are children—the human kind. And “children are delicious,” so she eats them. Mrs. Noodleman forces her to spit them out and reiterates the titular rule. Penelope’s classmates, covered in disgusting spit, express their displeasure with hugely expressive faces and postures. Penelope’s efforts to make friends are unimpressive to the kids (and will have readers in stitches!). A sad and lonely dino trudges home to some advice from her parents, but the temptation the next day is just too great. “Mrs. Noodleman, Penelope ate William Omoto again!” The whole class is afraid of her, except Walter, the goldfish. But when she extends the hand of friendship to him, he gives her a taste of her own medicine, leading to a change of heart and some new friends. Higgins’ illustrations combine scanned textures, graphite, ink, and Photoshop elements, and they feature a wonderfully diverse class that includes a girl in hijab, a tyke in glasses, and a boy wearing a kippah amid classmates of varying skin and hair colors and body types.

Fans of macabre, tongue-in-cheek humor (and twist endings!) will enjoy time spent with Penelope. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00355-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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