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)