The lovable duo of Penny and Jelly are back. This time they are excited about a star-viewing sleepover at the community center. They plug in their home planetarium and practice finding constellations together. (The Dog Star, Sirius, is their favorite.) But as Penny makes a list of everything she needs to pack for the night, she notices that no pets are allowed. What can she do? With her usual determination and creativity, Penny tries to make a substitute Jelly to take with her. But none of the fake Jellys come out right. Not the one made of a fleece blanket, or cotton balls, or buttons, or... When it is time to leave, her "backpack was full, but Penny felt empty without Jelly." What a perfect description of how it feels to try and do a fun activity without your best friend there with you. As usual, Penny finds the perfect solution, and the night ends with "a constellation of friends, surrounded by a galaxy of Jellys."
Just as in their previous story, The School Show, Penny has enough perseverance and energy for several girls and Jelly is a faithful companion throughout everything. I love the variety of materials that are used to create one substitute Jelly after another. I can picture a class having their own Jelly creation station and then the students having an art show of their efforts. The illustrations are just as wonderful a match for the text as they were in the first book. I'm still amazed at the way Thyra can get Jelly's face to show so much expression. The forlorn look as Penny heads toward the door with her backpack is enough to break my heart (even though I was sure Penny would figure out a solution). And the end papers with the constellations are beautiful.
Highly recommended - a great story about friendship, creativity, and problem-solving. Readers who enjoy stories like Fancy Nancy will find a new favorite in Penny & Jelly.
*Update 08/01/2016 We have added this book to the Fairview library.