Gotta Sing! Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
Penny came home from school with a song.
"Listen, Mama," said Penny. "It's my very own song!"
Penny has been learning how to count and has come up with her own counting song, in rhyme no less. She even remembers all the words.
But Mama stops her in mid-line.
"Your song is beautiful.
But you will wake up the babies."
Penny tries out her act with Papa, but gets the same response. Those twins really need to finish their naps!
Lily tries to be patient. She goes to her room, closes the door tight, and sings her song quietly, very quietly to herself. She rehearses, watching herself sing it in the mirror. She performs it before a circle of her glass animals.
It's not a thrill. What her song needs is an real audience.
Finally the babies are up, their meal is made, and the family assembles for dinner. Penny launches into her song as soon as Mama and Papa are seated.
"Not at the table!" says Mama.
Penny is worried. What if she forgets some of the ten things she's counting up? What if she forgets most of the words?
But at last it's time for Penny's song, and Mama and Papa are bowled over. Patience and practice had paid off and Penny's performance is "beautiful," her parents proclaim. Even the babies clap and clap. Mama and Papa don some costumes--Mama in funny sunglasses and Papa in his silliest hat--inspiring Penny to put on a feather boa for a festive reprise, and everyone really belts out her song together. Even the babies giggle and bounce in time.
"I'm tired," smile Mama and Papa at last. The babies don't say anything. They have already fallen asleep.
Kevin Henkes is known as a master creator of memorable girl mouse characters--tales of Wemberley, Chrysanthemum, Sheila Rae (the Brave), and of course Lily of the notorious purple plastic purse. Compared to the exploits of such self-confident and exuberant young mouse girls as Sheila and Lily, Penny is a sedate, rather laid-back character, her story one of simple forbearance and good-natured family feeling, but Henkes' new Penny and Her Song (Greenwillow, 2012) presents a likely and likable heroine for the award-winning author's debut into short chapter books for early readers.