Penny & Jelly: The School Show – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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pennyTitle: Penny & Jelly: The School Show

Written by: Maria Gianferrari

Illustrated by: Thyra Heder

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015

Themes/Topics: school show, talent, being a good friend

Suitable for ages: 3-6


The Peabody Elementary Talent Show was an annual tradition.                                          All of Penny’s classmates were participating.


Everyone else in the class can either sing or dance or plans on doing both for the show but Penny isn’t gifted at either of these and needs to find a talent fast. She makes a list of her top five talents but as she tries out each, and more, with help from her pup, Jelly, she recognizes that none of these make her shine. She continues undaunted until she has crossed eighteen possibilities off her list (including yodeling, fashion modeling  and unicycling.) It is only when she quits trying that she and Jelly come up with the coolest idea and you’ll have to read the book to see how they fair.

Why I like This Book:

I love Penny’s go-get-’em attitude, willing to truly exhaust her list before quitting, but she doesn’t really quit, she simply recognizes that talent comes in all forms, friendship being one of the greatest manifestations. Kids without the more spectacular singing and dancing talents will recognize these angsty moments of trying to come up with a talent to wow the crowd and they will laugh at Penny’s good humor despite her failures and Jelly’s shenanigans.

I particularly enjoyed Heder’s school illustrations where she captures the chaos and creativity of elementary school life. This is a great debut picture book by author, Maria Gianferrari and I encourage you to come back to the blog on Monday where Maria is doing  a guest post as part of a blog tour.


  • Have the students make lists of their obvious and then their not so obvious talents. If any are struggling have classmates help suggest one another’s talents.
  • Have students make a list of their pets’ talents!
  • Time this reading to coincide with a school or class talent show.
  • Find out more about the author on her website.
  • Find out more about the illustrator from her website.

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7 Responses to Penny & Jelly: The School Show – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Looking forward to Monday’s post! Congratulations to Maria on her debut!

  2. Thanks so much for the shout out, Joanna!

    And vielen Dank, Julie!

    What a nice way to start my day :).

  3. Cathy says:

    What a delightful review of a perfectly charming book!

    Maria has certainly debuted her writing career with a winning tale, and Thyra’s illustrations are magical!

  4. What a great story. Boy could identify with Penny as a child. Love her determination and creativity. It certainly is an important book to have in the classroom as not every child is an athlete, musician etc. Want to read this book!

  5. Thanks, Patricia! I’ll be on Joanna’s blog on Monday, so you could tune in for a chance to win a copy 🙂

  6. Pingback: Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari, Author of Penny & Jelly The School Show | Miss Marple's Musings

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