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Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2012 *Starred Review* One morning, while pushing her doll’s stroller past Mrs. Goodwin’s house, Penny spies a big, sky-blue marble in her neighbor’s grass. After checking that no one is watching, she puts it in her pocket. Back at home, she enjoys playing with her new treasure until she sees Mrs. Goodwin in her yard “exactly where Penny had found the marble.” Suddenly Penny feels uncomfortable. That feeling grows, making it hard for her to eat or sleep. The next morning, after putting the marble back where she found it, she learns that her neighbor had placed it there in hopes that someone would find and love it. When Penny accepts the marble from Mrs. Goodwin and thanks her, all is well. Through his narratives, Henkes conveys shades of emotions that are common to the human experience yet hard to express in words. It’s particularly impressive that he can do so in a book for beginning readers. Told in short sentences and simple words with a natural cadence, the story lays out a moral dilemma, lets the heroine find her own solution, and concludes with a reassuringly good outcome. Expressive ink-and-watercolor illustrations complement the text on every page. This small-scale yet immensely satisfying drama is a fine addition to the Penny series. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Henkes's second book for beginning readers is sure to be as well received as his first, Penny and Her Song (2012). - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2013 PreS-Gr 2—In the latest installment in the series, the young mouse is pushing her doll's stroller down the block when she spies a marble on her neighbor's lawn. After furtively looking around, Penny drops it in her pocket and races home. At first she delights in her new treasure, enjoying how smooth it feels between her fingers and how fast it rolls across the floor, but then she is overcome with guilt for taking something that doesn't belong to her. Henkes's nuanced watercolor and ink illustrations capture the shame-filled mouse hiding behind curtains. As she continues to worry, she loses her appetite: "The oranges in the bowl looked like big orange marbles. The peas on her plate looked like little green marbles." After a dream-filled night, Penny decides to put the marble back where she found it. When confronted by Mrs. Goodwin, Penny's "cheeks were hot. She could not speak," but her kind neighbor reassures her that she put the marble on the grass hoping someone would pick it up. Readers will empathize with Penny and her conflicted emotions. The short sentences with plenty of repetition and superb pacing make this title perfect for beginning readers. A treasure.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2013 In the latest Penny episode (see Penny and her Song, BCCB 4/12), our mouse heroine contends with a moral dilemma all too familiar among little children. While out walking her doll, Penny finds a lovely blue marble on the lawn of her neighbor, Mrs. Goodwin. She pockets the treasure with only the tiniest twinge of guilt, but as the day wears on, her decision begins to weigh on her. Of course, Penny knows what she should do, and when she returns the marble to where she found it, Mrs. Goodwin is right there to reassure her that she left the marble there on purpose, hoping “someone would walk by and see it.” Henkes is a proven master of juvenile angst, and he views the situation with a sharp eye and a compassionate heart. The four-chapter easy-reader format deftly advances the trajectory-Penny’s discovery of the marble, her fading joy in its ownership, the seriocomic attack of guilt (“At dinner, Penny did not eat much. The oranges in the bowl looked like big orange marbles. The peas on her plate looked like little green marbles”), and Penny’s relief at doing the right thing. Mrs. Goodwin, in her turn, handles the situation perfectly, reassuring Penny that the marble is hers to keep but respectfully allowing her to confess her presumed wrongdoing and relieve her conscience. Watercolor pictures in a pastel palette are sweet but not saccharine, successfully conveying the range of expressions that accompany Penny’s day of turmoil and the warmth of Penny’s supportive parents, who would definitely be proud of their little girl’s integrity, if only they knew. EB - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.