Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Penny and Her Song

Recently I was given an ARC for Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes to be released February 28, 2012.  I was pretty excited when it was placed in my hands.  Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite authors.  His books are always a hit in the classroom.  The children in my classroom can easily identify with his characters who have many of the same experiences and feelings they have.  We love that, like the young writers in our classroom, Kevin Henkes writes his stories AND creates his illustrations.

Of course, immediately I noticed that Penny and Her Song is the size of a beginning chapter book.  When I opened the book I found that is exactly what Henkes has done.  He has written this story in two chapters about Penny who wants to share her song with her family.  Penny goes to her mom to her share her song, but her mom is worried she'll wake the babies.  She goes to her dad to share her song, but he is worried she'll wake the babies.  Finally in chapter two Penny gets to share her beautiful song and a dance party ensues.

Young readers who have been eagerly awaiting their entry into the chapter book club will be happy with this book.  Kevin Henkes has used a story structure young readers will be able to understand.  The repetition of the phrases throughout the story not only make it easier for young readers to read independently, but also add an irresistible rhythm to the story.  Most of all, young readers will love Penny.  She's delightful as she waits patiently to share her song (a lesson Lilly, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, might be able to use).  Penny is the perfect big sister!

I'm not going to lie, I love Kevin Henkes in picture book format where his illustrations dance on the pages around his words.  He is such a talented storyteller and illustrator.  However, kids everywhere excitedly wait to move into chapter books and this is the perfect bridge to joining that club.  I'm hoping Kevin Henkes will continue to create his magic in regular picture book formats, but in his spare time I'm happy to see him send these beginning chapter books to young readers who love his work.  There will always be plenty of room on our library shelves.

Penny and Her Song will be released at the end of the month.  I can't wait to add it to our classroom library.  (I suppose it is unlikely, but I'm hoping soon we'll be able to find it in reader format as I think the book lends itself nicely to that.)

Kevin Henkes talks about Penny and Her Song here.

I just had to share this video of Kevin Henkes sharing his thinking as an illustrator.  My students will love peeking into the process of his storytelling.


  1. Thank you for this. I think showing this to our students will help them see how simple things can be that inspire greatness, or someone to do what they love. Where he goes through the writing process and book creation- the kids will love it! He is my favorite! - Susan M (2nd grade teacher)

  2. Cathy - Thanks for all the great ideas and sharing the Kevin Henkes videos. I'm now on a quest to read many more of his books - I've loved so many over the years. I think he will be a great author to study and kick off our spring author studies in 4th and 5th grade!
    Thank you for the inspiration!!