Thursday, August 16, 2018

Picture Book Review: We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins. unpgd. Disney/ Hyperion, June, 2018. 9781368003551. (Review from purchased finished copy.)

It's no secret that I am a fan of Ryan T. Higgins. I expected nothing less than being utterly entertained by We Don't Eat Our Classmates. Really, how can one resist that absolutely adorable cover or the title? End-pages are decorated with dino-centric kid art hung on a clothesline with clothes pins. On the title page, Penelope assures readers that they will never be eaten by a T-Rex.

Penelope is nervous about starting school. It appears that she has been practicing her alphabet with her little dino stuffies, but despite her mother's calm assurances, she is still worried. There are some highlights - she has a new backpack with ponies on it and her father packed three hundred tuna sandwiches in her pony lunchbox. 

The spread where Penelope enters the classroom and discovers it filled with CHILDREN is hysterical but the page-turn revealing the fact that she ate them because, "children are delicious," is pure comic gold; as is the following spread featuring saliva-covered unhappy classmates that were dutifully spat out onto the rug per Penelope's unflappable teacher's instructions. 

The visual humor in the spreads depicting her attempts at making friends are hilarious. The mood shifts a bit as Penelope suffers the consequences of her actions and no one wants to be her friend. Except Walter the goldfish.

Higgins' graphite, ink and photoshop art is just delightful. Filled with visual humor and small details, like the named cubbies and their contents, that just warm the heart. Penelope's expressive face, her little pink overalls, and, well, just about everything about her are just so endearing. 

We Don't Eat Our Classmates belongs in every school, public and elementary classroom library. In a world where back-to-school books are a dime a dozen, this one stands head and shoulders above them all. This is one you won't mind reading repeatedly and, your students will love you for it.

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