Fast forward twenty years. Penny and Her Song is Henkes's latest book and it's an easy reader. Penny, the story's young heroine is, like Lilly, a mouse child, but with two baby siblings. While this would have driven Lilly around the bend, Penny takes their existence in stride. Where Lilly was boisterous and outrageous, Penny is quiet and resourceful. She comes home from school bursting to share her song with her parents. Except she can't. The babies are asleep. Now Lilly would have thrown a tantrum on the spot. Not Penny. She goes to her room and attempts to sing the song to herself and to her glass animals. Neither does the trick. She needs a proper audience. After dinner Penny finally gets her chance and after listening, her parents and the babies join the show, singing until they are all tuckered out and ready for bed.
When I started the story I fully expected Penny to act up when she didn't get her way. How refreshing that Henkes, without moralizing, shows his readers the benefits of using self-control and patience. Short, direct sentences combined with Henkes's always delightful illustrations give us a winning easy reader children will want to read again and again. And, who knows, maybe even copy the text word for word.
Watch Kevin Henkes as he talks about Penny.
Penny and Her Song
by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 32 pages
Published: February 2012