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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Penny and Her Doll, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Harper, 2012. $

"Penny opened the box.
Mama helped her.
There was a note in the box.
There was something else
in the box.
It was wrapped in pretty paper.
"First, let's read the note,"
said Mama.
Mama read the note."

This is our second meeting with Penny and her family. The first chapter finds Penny and her mother in the garden; Mama weeds while Penny smells the roses. Both seem content.When the mail carrier arrives with a parcel, their work stops. Penny is delighted with the contents of the box, and falls in love immediately.

In the second chapter Penny faces a dilemma. Everyone else in the family has a name...Penny, Jane, John, Tilly, Pip...what about her doll? Her parents encourage her and make some suggestions. None have the flavor that Penny feels best represents her beloved new companion. Her parents, always supportive and wanting her to make independent choices, encourage Penny to take some time and let the problem take care of itself. It's all the freedom she needs:

"Nothing was right.
Penny hugged her doll.
"Don't worry,: she said.
"I will find a name for you."

Sure enough, just when she is least expecting it, the perfect name reveals itself and Penny happily introduces the newest member to her mouse family. Brava!

This is another faultless book from Kevin Henkes' pen. He recreates an endearing character who faces life's little situations with aplomb. His word choice is perfect for the early reader, and gives them a story to love and understand while basking in the joy of independence. His illustrations are as gentle and charming as the story itself. This is destined to be a classic, and will have a permanent place on my 'keeper' shelf.

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