Monday, September 3, 2012

danyelle recommends Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes

Because I have a kindergartner who is learning to read, I have recently spent a considerable amount of time with easy-to-read books, so I was delighted to learn that Kevin Henkes, author and illustrator extraordinaire, had created two new books for these young readers: Penny and Her Song and Penny and Her Doll.  With a trim size typical of easy readers, each book combines plenty of illustrations, short lines, repetitive text, and ample white space to make a story accessible to beginning readers.  Even better than that, these books are fun to read.

In Penny and Her Song, Penny comes home from school excited to share her new song with her family, but she is interrupted at each attempt by Mama and Papa telling her the babies are asleep.  As she waits in her room, trying unsuccessfully to sing to herself, the repetition that dominates the first few pages is broken, and the pace of the story slows, intensifying the feeling of waiting for the reader. Penny’s frustration and growing impatience are evident as she moves her glass animals around on her dresser and makes faces in the mirror.  After dinner, when Penny finally gets to sing her song, the family joins in, with even the babies singing “in their own baby way.” Now she has a chance to shine as they sing and sing and sing together, and Penny enjoys her parents’ attention.

Penny and Her Doll begins with Penny and Mama working in the garden where Mama finds weeds, while Penny finds flowers.  The mailman brings Penny a package containing a doll from Gram. 
            “The doll had pink cheeks.
            The doll had a pink bow.
            The doll had a pink dress
            with big buttons.”

Penny loves her new doll, and the illustrations of Penny holding and hugging her doll mirror those of her parents with the babies.  I love the family dynamic in this story.  Mama and Papa are supportive, and when Penny needs a name for her doll they are even a little helpful, but the focus is always on Penny, and ultimately she is the one who must solve her own problem.  When she finally does, she beams, and I couldn’t help but smile with her.

These are two books that will be well-loved at our house.  I sure hope that Mr. Henkes has a few more Penny stories to tell.

Penny and Her Song
by Kevin Henkes
published by Greenwillow Books
February 2012

Penny and Her Doll
by Kevin Henkes
published by Greenwillow Books
August 2012

Recommended for ages 4 - 8


  1. I love Kevin Henkes. He writes the sweetest stories. These are on my shelf just begging someone to pick them up! I can't wait to discover them with my reader.

  2. We are always looking for books for this reading level! I love hearing about more!

  3. I loved reading these stories!!! Kevin Henkes has amazing illustrations, and I loved Penny and her family. So cute!