Penny Draws a School Play

Penny Draws a School Play
Age Range
Release Date
September 05, 2023
Buy This Book
Halfway through the fifth grade, Penny Lowry is discovering that things are actually going . . . okay! With her friends Maria, Kristian, and Rocco on her side, and her lovable dog Cosmo, she can make it through anything. And when her anxiety comes back, there's always her doodling, or talking to Mrs. Hines, the Feelings Teacher. But big change is around the corner: Penny's family is moving to a new house, her mom is about to give birth to twins, and most stressful of all, she's been tapped for a role in her class play! 

Rolling with life's surprises isn't Penny's strength. But she's learning . . . one doodle at a time!

Editor review

1 review
Unexpected surprises
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
This book is the sequel to Penny Draws a Best Friend and Penny continues to struggle with anxiety. She writes journal entries to her dog as a coping mechanism when she’s stressed. The author provides several worrisome incidents to create conflicts for Penny. She was getting used to her strict, fifth-grade teacher but now they’ll have a substitute for the rest of the year. The new teacher is changing the way the class play will be produced this year and everyone will have a part in it. Penny hates standing in front of the class let alone on a stage. Finally, her parents just announced they’ll be moving to a new house next week! Penny then learns that her best friend and new neighbor are “sworn enemies”. Young readers should be able to empathize with Penny and her new challenges.
The narrative is accompanied by sketch drawings that enhance the story. They’re a step up from stick figures so they’re easy to understand and follow. The pictures don’t just go along with the story as they are actually part of it. The dialogue in the illustrations fills in gaps so readers need to be sure they read the words or they’ll miss information. The drawings show interactions between characters but sometimes they show the thoughts going on inside Penny’s mind. The illustrations almost act the same way as in graphic novels but they support the text in this book.
Penny continues to visit Mrs. Hines and this teacher helps Penny and her best friends handle their issues with stress. Mrs. Hines offers helpful suggestions when they feel overwhelmed with pressure and young readers may relate to the hints too. The other kids don’t seem to lose control as much as Penny but they still offer help to each other. Petra is the one who wrote the class play, Rocco gets the lead role as a vampire, and Penny is expected to play a bat. Rocco is really stepping out of his comfort zone so he becomes Penny’s vampire twin, the two of them agreeing to stick together when they’re stressed.
What didn’t work as well:
The text in the speech bubbles is quite small when a character has a lot to say which can make the print less clear and harder to read. Also, the plot moves quickly and at a nice pace but character development is limited, except for Penny. These issues shouldn’t be big problems for young readers as the book is still very enjoyable.
The final verdict:
This book can be read independently from the first one. Penny’s character is engaging and relatable for young readers and the narrator’s voice is fitting for the upper elementary grades. The overall book is pleasant and amusing and I recommend you give it a shot.
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