I try not to live in the past, even though it had some really good parts. But recently the three members of my nuclear family each commanded me to review a book on this blog. Each one an old book, as it happens. So here we go, to 2002, then to 1996 and 1965.
Since my wife is the technical brains behind Patterson Picks, I think she deserves for me to do her book first. It’s a 2002 book I found subbing at Ventura Park Elementary a few weeks ago. And it got big laughs from the almost-seven-year-old, the almost-ten-year-old and both of the adults in this house.
Penny Lee and Her TV , written and illustrated by Glenn McCoy, introduces us to only two living characters: Penny Lee and her dog, Mr. Barkley. And it is pretttty boring to be Mr. Barkley. Here’s why: “Penny Lee didn’t have any friends. She didn’t need any. The TV was her best friend.” She even sleeps on top of it and dreams commercials.
Poor Mr. Barkley tries everything his dog brain can think of to get a little attention. Even when he puts ramps on both sides of the TV and rides his motorcycle through a flaming hoop mounted on the TV, Penny doesn’t even notice. (But the readers do. We all cracked up at the dog with his giant nose and American flag motorcycle helmet.)
Then one morning Penny wakes to a cold, dark TV screen. She’s hysterical ‘til Mr. Barkley shows her a TV repair ad in the newspaper. They set off rolling their TV down the sidewalk, and Penny can’t get over how bright and colorful the real world is. And she’s flummoxed by how she can’t use her remote control to switch the “channel” she is walking through. Would you believe they have fun on the way to the shop? They go for rides on the TV down steep hills, use the cord for a jump rope, and play hide and seek at the park. (Penny is easy to find because she has to hide by the big TV.)
It’s a quick, satisfying story replete with sight gags like when Penny and Mr. Barkley do chalk drawing on the sidewalk. Penny draws her favorite TV superhero and her TV; Mr. Barkley draws a bone, a tree and a fire hydrant. They have so much fun on the way to the shop that it’s closed by the time they get there. And Penny isn’t even mad!
After Penny goes to sleep in her own bed for a change, we find that Mr. Barkley has a little secret that ends the story perfectly.
Next time, a trip to 1996. Don’t change that blog channel…