Penny and Her Song

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Penny and Her Song Book Poster Image
Adorable mouse learns patience waiting to sing for family.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows the fun of making up a song and singing it for others. Could inspire readers to do the same. Penny's song is a counting song, so kids may learn a little about numbers. 

Positive Messages

Patience is a virtue; good things come to those who wait; obeying your parents is sometimes tough, but even when they tell you no, they still love you; sometimes you can fill waiting time with other creative activity to entertain yourself; it's fun to set aside family time. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Penny is creative, confident, and obedient. Her parents are kind but firm, and when they make time to hear her song, they listen attentively and join in enthusiastically, even putting on silly costumes for "the show." 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Penny and Her Song is a realistic slice-of-life story showing how difficult it is for a kid to wait to share  a creative achievement with her family. Author-illustrator Kevin Henkes, who won a Caldecott Award for Kitten's First Full Moon, a Caldecott Medal for Owen, and a Newbery Award for Olive's Ocean, has created an appealing female character with spunk, but who is not petulant like the popular pig of the Olivia series. Penny takes no for an answer without going into a snit or throwing a tantrum, and is rewarded with her parents' full attention when they set aside some family time after dinner for her to shine. A soft Penny doll is also available, and may prove irresistible.

What's the story?

Cute and creative mouse Penny comes home from school anxious to sing her new song to her family, but Mama and Papa make her wait, first so as not to wake her baby siblings, then until after dinner. While Penny waits, she thinks up ways to entertain herself. Then finally, when the time is right, she sings her song, and the whole family sings along and joins in the fun.

Is it any good?

PENNY AND HER SONG works as both a delightful read-along and an engaging early reader, with its short chapters and simple text. Award-winning author-illustrator Kevin Henkes has created an appealing, spunky female character and a realistic, positive portrayal of family dynamics in a busy household where family members have different, sometimes conflicting, needs. Henke's pastel-palette illustrations are super cute, and Penny is reminiscent, in appearance and impatience, of the star of Henkes' bestselling Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how tough it is to be told you have to wait -- for anything! What do you find particularly hard to wait for?

  • Is it fair for Penny' parents to make her wait from afternoon until after dinner to sing her song? 

  • Have you read any picture books by this author? How do you think this chapter book compares? Is he still using art to tell his story? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animal stories

Themes & Topics

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