Penelope joins the ranks of some other popular nonconformists, including Ian Falconer’s Olivia, David Shannon’s Camilla...

YOU'RE WEARING THAT TO SCHOOL?

A hippo with her own sense of style shows her 1-year-older, uptight, mouse best friend that it’s important to be true to yourself.

Penelope is over the moon to be starting school, but her best friend, Tiny, seems more reticent about his first day back: “Oh, Penelope, you have so much to learn.” And he’s not talking about academics. Penelope’s sparkle rainbow outfit will cause everyone to stare, and what will they think of her picnic lunch and her Hugsy Hippo for show and tell? Tiny helps her pick out the perfect outfit, lunch and item for show and tell—all of them boring, ordinary and plain in Penelope’s eyes. But you can’t keep a happy hippo down, and in the morning, Penelope dons her sparkle rainbow outfit and packs her picnic lunch and Hugsy Hippo anyway. Tiny is uncomfortable with the other kids’ stares at the bus stop, reluctant to sit with Penelope on the bus and worried that his friend will have a bad day. But when they meet up again in the lunchroom, he realizes that his fears were unfounded. Penelope not only has a great day, she makes the day better for all the kids around her, Tiny included. Plourde’s dialogue includes lots of give-and-take between Penelope and Tiny, encouraging children to join in, and Cornelison’s illustrations positively revel in Penelope’s outré glee.

Penelope joins the ranks of some other popular nonconformists, including Ian Falconer’s Olivia, David Shannon’s Camilla Cream and Victoria Jamieson’s Bea. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5510-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture...

HAPPY DREAMER

Displaying his distinctive voice and images, Reynolds celebrates the joys and challenges of being a creative spirit.

“I am a HAPPY DREAMER,” cheers a thin, spiky-haired white boy as he flies skyward, streaming yellow swirls of sparkles. This little “dreamer maximus” piles on the energy with colors and noise and the joy-filled exuberance he has for life. “Wish you could HEAR inside my head / TRUMPETY, ZIGZAG JAZZ!” With clear honesty, he shares that the world tells him to be quiet, to focus and pay attention. Like a roller-coaster ride, Reynolds’ text and illustrations capture the energetic side of creativity and the gloom of cleaning up the messes that come with it while providing a wide vocabulary to describe emotional brilliance and resilience. The protagonist makes no apologies for expressing his feelings and embracing his distinct view of the world. This makes him happy. The book finishes with a question to readers: “What kind of dreamer are you?” Hinging outward, the double-page spread opens to four panels, each with a dozen examples of multiracial children being happy and being dreamers, showing inspiring possibilities for exploration. The best way, of course, is to “just BE YOU.”

A sweet gift to praise spirited individuality, this choice encourages readers to dream big. Let those sparkles fly! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-86501-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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