We Don’t Eat Our Classmates Penelope is told in Ryan T. Higgins latest book. But that is a very hard thing to not do, as she is a dinosaur and her classmates are all children. And children are ever so tasty!
Higgins creates a new first day of school story with an absurd twist. As we are informed at the start (oddly enough by Penelope) dinosaurs are extinct and we will not get eaten by one, so we do not have to worry about that. We just worry about trying to make new friends on the first day of school. Maybe it is because we are different color, or religion, are the new kid in school or we have a disability. Perhaps we are shy or maybe we are a bit too aggressive. Whatever the reason is that makes it hard to make friends, we learn we just keep tying.
I like the realism mixed with the unrealism of Penelope and her family. They are T-Rexs and Higgins does not shy away from that (realism). Penelope has ponies on her lunch box as they are her favorite. And very tasty. Her dad packs her three hundred tuna sandwiches. Yet, a dinosaur is going to school with children (unrealism). The other part of the realism is the diversity of the children. Not only are there different backgrounds and ethnicities, there are at least two of the children who are obviously of different religions. And on the pages as you see who they play with, what they do and how they dress allows for each child’s own unique personality come out.
The illustrations are abstract, but again, Higgins does not shy away from the realism. Such as there is drool/spit after she spits out her classmates when she eats them (more than once). The details of the classroom are fun (can you spot Penelope’s cubie?) And everyone’s expression is very expressive.