Penny and Her Doll



Cute mouse seeks name for new doll in OK sequel.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids learn that "everyone needs a name," from family members to beloved dolls. 

Positive messages

Take your time and keep thinking; the idea you're trying to come up with will come eventually. Be patient, and don't give up. 

Positive role models

Penny is sweet and loving, and Mama and Papa are patient and understanding. They know that Penny wants to find a name for her doll, and they let her know they're sure she'll come up with it eventually. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Penny and Her Doll is the sequel to Penny and Her Song. Here the adorable little mouse's Gram sends her a doll, and Penny struggles to come up with the perfect name for her -- a common problem that young readers will relate to. No tears or big frustrations, just an earnest and deliberate quest.

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What's the story?

Penny is smelling roses in the family garden as her mother weeds when the mailman delivers a big box that contains a beautiful doll from Penny's Gram, all dressed in pink. Penny spends the rest of the book (three short chapters in all) trying to pick the perfect name for her. When she tells Mama she can't think of a name, Mama reassures her: \"You will.\" She shows the doll all around the house, and then finally takes her to the garden, saying, \"This is where I was when I got you,\" and it comes to her: She names the doll Rose and excitedly tells her family.

Is it any good?


Penny is irresistible, and kids will relate to her pint-size troubles. She shows her doll around her home, from kitchen to bathroom to bedroom, but can't be satisfied until she's named this new member of the household. The story doesn't have as many emotional layers as Penny and Her Song, and parents may find the story predictable and the message less than earth-shattering: "Everyone needs a name." But it's still engaging and good for early readers. Author-illustrator Kevin Henkes' expressive illustrations capture all of Penny's emotions, from delight to worry. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how it feels to want the right name for your toy or doll. Why is that important? What is it about the right name that makes you happy? How did you come up with the names for some of your favorites? 

  • If you read Penny and Her Song, how do you think Penny and Her Doll compares? Do you like it as much? 

  • How do you like reading books with chapters, instead of larger picture books that have fewer words? 

Book details

Author:Kevin Henkes
Illustrator:Kevin Henkes
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:August 21, 2012
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Read aloud:4 - 8
Read alone:5 - 8
Available on:Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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