Penelope tries hard to be, as the title indicates, perfect.
Penelope Perfect appears proud of her nickname, inspired by her discipline: "Have you ever heard of Old Faithful? / Well, that geyser has nothin' on me!" Continuing in pedestrian verse, Penelope catalogs the course of her day: she cleans her room, exercises, then gets on the bus. At school, Penelope arranges her desk and rechecks her work. She doesn't even take a break at lunch, staying in to rewrite her notes. Cheery cartoons that vary from double-page spreads to full-page illustrations and vignettes show her many instances of perfection, even into the night, when she gets under the covers with a flashlight to double-check her list. On occasion, she appears concerned, but more often she wears a contented smile. But one morning, she wakes up late, throwing off her routine and initially causing great consternation. To Penelope's surprise—and everyone else's—she feels oddly free and even takes part in the games at recess. She’s changed by the experience. Unfortunately, the message is mixed, given Penelope’s previous self-satisfaction and the fact that, even reformed, she refers to play as “goofing off.” The book concludes with four pages of activities and discussion questions to help adults understand and work with children struggling with perfectionism. Penelope’s African-American mom and Caucasian dad are a nice touch.
It’s not perfect, but it means well. (Picture book. 5-8)