Title: We Don't Eat Our Classmates
Author: Ryan T. Higgins
Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: June 19th, 2018
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book
GoodReads Summary: It's the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can't wait to meet her classmates. But it's hard to make human friends when they're so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .
What I Think: When this book came out, Franki Sibberson asked me if I had read it because of our long discussions about I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Well, I finally got to reading this and I loved it. You can imagine what might happen when a t-rex goes to school!
I absolutely loved how the theme of this book look at how we treat others and how we hope to be treated. It's such a hard concept for kids to grasp and I find myself as a mom going over this again and again with my kids. This book offers a fresh look at this ever important lesson.
As a mentor text, I spotted the illustrations and the attention Ryan paid to the characters and their facial expression. They stood out because the story centers on Penelope but the children at school convey their own emotions about how the story is unfolding mostly through the looks on their faces. When I read with my kids, we were cracking up at the faces they were making. Kindergartners spend a lot of time drawing as writing and this extends into first and second grade...but it doesn't have to stop there. Any writer can use drawings to help flesh out their writing. In fact, when a writer draws, they have to show the character and the scene and this helps as they develop what they might include in their written text. Taking time to talk to young writers about their drawings is important. Often they draw happy faces or sad faces but there are so many other emotions they could show in their drawings. Looking at We Don't Eat Our Classmates through the lens of a writer who draws gives writers an opportunity to think about how to show emotion in their drawings. This is also an opportunity to talk about visual literacy when you ask students to stop and notice and discuss what they notice in the illustrations.
This book would also make a great study for writers of any age who incorporate drawings or illustrations into their writing.
Snatch of Text:
When she got home, her dad asked about her first day of school.
"I didn't make any friends!" Penelope cried. "None of the children wanted to play with me!"
"Penelope Rex," her father asked , "did you eat your classmates?"
"Well...maybe sort of just a little bit."
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