Penelope Perfect: Project Best Friend
Penelope Perfect: Very Private List for Camp Success
Penelope Perfect: Lucky Jars & Broken Promises
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2015
144pp., pbk., RRP $A14.95
Penelope Kingston wants to be perfect. And most of the time she is good, sensible and calm. But then sometimes Penelope is bossy, angry and frustrated. It’s as though there are two different girls inside her and Penelope is never quite sure who is going to be stronger on any given day or any particular circumstance.. She’s in Grade 6, is a Gemini (which makes sense because characteristically they have two different sides of personality and you will never be sure with whom you will face); loves her mobile phone and hates to be called Penny. She’s won many awards at school as she strives to be perfect (although ‘excellent’ will do) but her over-thinking of things causes her anxiety levels to rise if things are not ‘just so’.
She is most comfortable with order, structure and control (all her teddies face the same way because she believes they prefer the view) and while she seems to have adjusted well to her parents’ divorce, it’s the little things, such as her brother being late for school again or her mum going to work with buttons missing, that cause her the most distress. Perhaps it is because of the divorce which she couldn’t control that has driven her to obsessively taking charge of that which she can.
Like many feisty, strong contemporary heroine she faces similar challenges to her readers but unlike them setbacks set her back – she doesn’t just take them in her stride and move on. In fact, when her two sides collide there is temper and fireworks. She finds it very hard to ‘go with the flow’ as her wise grandfather suggests, preferring instead to be proactive in making situations and circumstances at their optimum for success, such as making a video clip of her perfect bedroom so the new girl in school will automatically want to be her best friend or writing a strict list of rules that will help her get through the school camp without crying. The preparations she and Oscar make to make their stall the best of the fete in Lucky Jars & broken Promises would do anyone with OCD proud. Yet it is when she is not trying that things resolve themselves.
Even though the situations faced are very common and readers will resonate with them, there is enough in each story to set them apart from everyday life and encourage the reader to empathise with Penelope. The text is interspersed with clever pictures that are an integral part of the story and which break it up so it is not an overwhelming sea of words for the newly independent reader.
If your girls in Yrs 2-5 are as voracious for new series about girls like them as the ones I know are, then this is a series that they will really enjoy and will be clamouring for new additions (coming in March). Miss 9 adored them.