Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 197: Penny and Her Marble

Kevin Henkes is one of our favorite authors, so whenever I see a new one of his books on a library shelf, I excitedly check it out and bring it home right away. We just love Henkes' classics like Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Wemberly Worried, My Garden, and Kitten's First Full Moon, and Penny and Her Marble is no exception.  It's a early reader chapter book similar in style and reading level to the Henry and Mudge series (which we also absolutely love.)   I always love Henkes' darling illustrations of his mice protagonists and their friends, and his books always have a lovely message to which I think all kids can relate.  

In Penny and her Marble, sweet little Penny goes out for a walk and discovers a beautiful, shiny marble in the yard of her neighbor, Mrs. Goodwin.  The marble is so shiny and beautiful that Penny simply can't resist.  After deciding that it mustn't belong to Mrs. Goodwin, Penny picks it up, puts it in her pocket, and heads home.  Penny admires her marble all afternoon -- it's so smooth and fast, and looks like a piece of the sky -- until she sees Mrs. Goodwin standing in her yard, right where the marble had been.  Penny hides the marble in her dresser drawer and starts to worry.  Was the marble really Mrs. Goodwin's after all?  What should she do??  

All children face a finders-keepers scenario at some point in their lives, and I love the way this adorable story demonstrates how they might handle such a situation.  Penny's reactions and emotions throughout are so real in a way that is probably quite validating to children, I would think.  I also love how the story gently introduces the idea that sometimes people can feel sick just from worrying about something.  Fortunately, I don't think my children have ever had that experience, but as silly as it sounds, I like knowing that they now know that can happen sometimes.  Who knows, maybe that will help them make sense of their own feelings someday.  It's little things like this, along with Henkes' adorably charming illustrations, that make me love his books so much.  As a Kirkus review of this book claimed, "Henkes continues to plumb the emotional world of childhood as few authors/illustrators can."  YES.  I couldn't have said it better myself (which is why I didn't.)  

The ending is just perfect and my son (age 5) has been requesting to read this story each day since we brought it home from the library.  Although it is a chapter book, there are still illustrations on each page and the text is short enough that even my 2.5 year old daughter is perfectly content reading this story.  This is also a great book for children who have recently started reading independently but aren't yet ready for books without any or few illustrations.  I was thrilled to learn that there are several other books about Penny, as well.  Needless to say, they're at the top of our list for our next library trip.

** UPDATE:  We have since read the other two books in this series, Penny and Her Song and Penny and Her Doll.  While the other two are cute, Penny and Her Marble is our favorite of the three.  **


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