Reading/Interest Level: Toddler, Preschool, Primary
Author: Colleen AF Venable
Illustrator: Ruth Chan
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Amy the red panda starts composing a story, but then the letters explode and declare that she is writing the best story in the world. Before she can resume telling her story, however, her friends gather around and begin making suggestions. Upset at being unable to tell her story, Amy tears down the words. Her best friend, Mervin the sloth, helps cheer her up, and she finishes by writing “Amy and Mervin had a fun day.” The rest of their friends reappear to compliment the sentence and request another story.
Although the sentences Amy writes aren’t quite “stories,” this book gets the point across that sometimes well-intended comments can block people from creating. Amy gets frustrated by all the input—something that many children can relate to as they are trying to learn independence—but is able to have fun again with the support of her friend. The watercolor illustrations do a good job communicating the emotions of Amy, cluttering the pages and obscuring her as the characters offer more and more conflicting advice before Amy shoos them away. The colors are bright and cheerful, and all the animals are furry and cuddly-looking, from the hedgehogs to the hippos. Children will be able to find humor in the comments of the animals as well as connection to Amy and her struggles.