Penny and Her Song is a lovely, simple tale about a small mouse who discovers her own creativity and finds a loving audience to appreciate what matters to her. Kevin Henkes has such a gift for crafting a story that manages to be heartwarming and funny and so very true to a child’s point of view and experience.
Penny gets home from school with a song to sing. She wants to do it Right Away, but her mom and dad tell her to wait a little, because the babies are sleeping. Penny has trouble waiting, but she does, and eventually after dinner she has a chance to shine. The whole family has a good time together enjoying the simple pleasure of making your own fun, and pretty soon it’s time for bed.
For a story about singing, it has a quiet tone that lets you slow down and appreciate Penny’s sweetness. Henkes captures everyday life, what happens one ordinary evening when Penny gets home from school. It’s nice to see that sort of day-to-day experience take centre stage in a story.
I liked how Penny’s parents actually parent in this book. I also like that their “not now Penny” is soon tempered with their willingness to make time to celebrate Penny’s song and jump in to do a little singing themselves. Penny is loved a whole lot – that’s clear – but it isn’t always about Penny. Now there’s a good lesson.
Penny is just as endearing as Henkes other much-loved mice. Henkes proves in this story, once again, that it’s the little things that matter to kids, and really, that the kids have it right: these things should matter to all of us.
Penny’s Song is published by Greenwillow Books.