'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 24 November 2023

Review: Penny Draws A School Play

Penny Draws A School Play is the second in the Penny Draws series from NY Times best-seller, Sara Shepard. It’s a delightful wander into the life of the middle grade reader, with all the particular quirks and shininess this entails.

Penny is a doodler, so when she is cast as a bat in the school play - which worries her, even though all she has to do is flit – she doodles to ease her anxiety and make sense of things. 

And hers are not just any old random doodles. They’re diary entries to her lovable dog, Cosmo.

Navigating life in grade five is hard enough at the best of times. 

But when your best friend has gone to the dark side (befriended the mean girl), your mum is pregnant with twins, your family is moving house, there’s a Big Foot on the loose in the woods behind your place and you have to be in the school play … well, things can get a little bit tricky. Especially if you’re prone to worry or anxiety, which Penny is. So, Penny draws. 

The words and illustrations in this book are perfect, and perfectly apt. The simple black and white line drawings contain so much character and emotion that they add exponentially to the enjoyment and substance of the book. These images feel a little like poetry, in that they bring a depth of mood and tension with just a few lines. Such wonderful inclusions. 

Even when things become crazy and challenging, through the power of drawing Penny somehow moves into solutions and problem solving. She’s loveable, flawed and utterly delightful.

Penny Draws A School Play engages and guides – it’s a breath of fresh air. With its funny and satisfying storyline, it’s a totally relatable portrayal of what goes on in a young, creative and sometimes anxious mind.  

Highly recommended.

Title: Penny Draws A School Play
Author/Illustrator: Sara Shepard
Publisher: Text, $16.99
Publication Date: 5 September 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781922790408
For ages: 8 +
Type: Middle Grade Fiction