we don't eat our classmates
In the picture book writing community, you often get a lot of similar ideas. My first love is fiction writing and short story, but I started to dabble in picture books a while back when my twin and I first had a great idea for a series. It turns out, it’s MUCH harder to write a picture book than it looks like. Especially for someone as wordy as I am.
So I studied picture books, I joined SCBWI, I went to conferences, I joined a local children’s book writing group and I joined the 12x12 picture book writing community. I learned a lot. One of the things that I learned is that there will be many times when someone else has the same idea as you do.
While We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins isn’t the same idea as a manuscript I’ve been working on, it has similar themes of friendship issues and a different type of student (mine being a zombie). And when I first saw the reviews for We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, I thought ‘uh-oh’. But I had to check out the book anyway.
Because Higgins wrote Mother Bruce and that book is CHARMING.
I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s light, it’s humorous, and the main character, Penelope, is likeable. Plus the illustrations are engaging and cute. Well done, Ryan T. Higgins, well done.
Penelope is starting school for the first time but she’s having trouble making friends….because she keeps eating her classmates. Making friends and the anxiety of making new friends and friendship issues is something I bring up and talk about ALL THE TIME with my patients. It’s a common theme that starts in preschool, gets heavier in grade school and middle school, and can also come up during high school. Let’s face it—friendship issues can happen no matter how old you are. Higgins brings a common fear to new light with quite a bit of humor and relate-ability.
It may even inspire me to pull my zombie story out of the metaphorical drawer and get to work on it.
Bottom line: You have to check out We Don’t Eat Our Classmates because Penelope is DELICIOUS. :D
Diversity side note: Penelope is definitely an outsider and very different than her classmates, but they learn more about her and her different ways of eating and learn to get along. It’s not an intentionally diverse story but it can be read that way. And the children illustrated in the story are a diverse group, especially Penelope’s table mate who is a cute Asian preschooler who is exceptionally tasty.
P.S. Currently Barnes and Noble has a We Don’t Eat Our Classmates for a special price ($7.99) if you’re buying another children’s book at the same time. #notanad
Tell Dr. Bookworm!
What is the last picture book you read that made you truly laugh out loud? (That’s my favorite part of reading with my kids.) This page below was a huge moment for me. Let me know your LOL picture book moments in the comment section.
Excerpt from We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.