About the Holiday
Well, Monday is Labor Day, and the official ending of summer. While the carefree (or were they even more hectic?) days of summer vacation are coming to a close, a new school year is just beginning. Make this one the best yet by talking with your kids about their day and your day. Taking time to read together—no matter how old your kids are—is another way to build bonds. Why not start with today’s funny and insightful book!
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
By Ryan T. Higgins
Penelope Rex was nervous about her first day of school. She wondered whether her classmates would be nice and how many teeth they would have. Her mom had gotten her a backpack decorated with ponies, and her dad had made three-hundred tuna sandwiches for her lunch. Both of these made Penelope smile because both ponies and tuna were delicious.
On the first day of school, Penelope walked into her classroom only to discover that “all of her classmates were CHILDREN! Penelope loved children! “Because children are delicious.” Right away Penelope ate them all up. Her teacher, Mrs. Noodleman, was not happy and told Penelope to “‘Please spit them out at once!’” Deposited back on the carpet, the saliva-covered kids were not too happy either.
Penelope tried to be good on the playground, during creative time, and at lunch, but she couldn’t help trying to eat the other kids. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t making any friends. When she got home, though, and told her dad, he had a pretty good idea why she’d been so lonely.
Her dad told her that eating children made it hard to make friends. Penelope thought and thought about this. The next day she tried to keep her teeth to herself, but the kids really were so delicious that Penelope just had to take a bite. The kids were terrified. The only one who didn’t run away from her was Walter, the class goldfish. Penelope tried to be friends, but when she poked her finger into his bowl—“CHOMP!”
Penelope screamed and then she cried. She didn’t like being Walter’s snack and suddenly realized why the kids didn’t like her. The whole experience ruined her appetite for children, but she discovered that once she stopped eating them, the kids wanted to be her friend. Sometimes, the children still look a little tantalizing, but when that happens Penelope just “peeks at Walter and remembers what it’s like when someone tries to eat you.” And Walter? He “stares right back and licks his lips. Because dinosaurs are delicious.”
With We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Higgins dips his pen into the Edward Gorey pool of gloriously grisly storytelling that so delights kids. If you want children to laugh out loud, respond with “Ewww!” and “Yuck!” and then laugh some more during story time, you’ll want to pick up this book. Kids will give Penelope plenty of “Awwws!” too as she tries so hard to understand why her classmates are afraid as well as to overcome her natural instincts and love for a tasty snack. In an unexpected and hilarious twist, goggle-eyed Walter inadvertently teaches Penelope a few valuable lessons.
Higgins’ little yellow dino in pink overalls is adorable as she revels in her pony backpack, hopes for a child-sized treat, and plays with new friends. Her sad eyes and bewildered expression after a day at school will spark plenty of empathy too. Penelope’s classmates are a most welcome representation of diversity, and her classroom—with two cozy reading nooks—is as cool as it gets.
For back to school and all year through, We Don’t Eat Our Classmates will be a favorite on home bookshelves and in classroom libraries.
Ages 4 – 7
Disney-Hyperion, 2018 | ISBN 978-1368003551
To learn more about Ryan T. Higgins, his books, and his art, visit his website.
Back-to-School Month Activity
Books to Love, Books to Read Book Bag
Are the kids going back to school? Then they need a bag to carry their favorite books and stuff in! This easy-to-make book bag—recycled from the cloth bag sheet sets come in—makes a perfect kid-sized bag for taking to the library or after-school activities!
- Printable Templates: Books to Read Template | Books to Love Template
- Small cloth bag, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the bag that sheet sets now come in
- Cloth trim or strong ribbon, available from craft or sewing stores—Recyclable Idea: I used the cloth handles from shopping bags provided from some clothing stores
- Scraps of different colored and patterned cloth. Or use quilting squares, available at craft and sewing stores
- Pen or pencil for tracing letters onto cloth
- Small sharp scissors (or cuticle scissors) for cutting out the center of the letters
- Fabric glue
- Thread (optional)
- Needle (optional)
- Print the sayings and cut out the letters
- Trace letters onto different kinds of cloth
- Cut out cloth letters
- Iron cloth bag if necessary
- Attach words “Books to Read” to one side of bag with fabric glue
- Attach words “Books to Love” to other side of bag with fabric glue
- Cut cloth trim or ribbon to desired length to create handles
- Glue (or sew) handles onto the inside edge of bag
You can find We Don’t Eat Our Classmates at these booksellers
Picture Book Review