Review of We Don't Eat Our Classmates

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.
6/18    978-1-368-00355-1    $17.99

The first day of school is tough enough; imagine you’re a wee Tyrannosaurus rex and it turns out that your classmates are, of all things, human. Penelope Rex does what any nervous dino would do: she eats the children, thereby eliminating the source of her anxiety and enjoying a delicious meal in the process. Although, obeying teacher Mrs. Noodleman’s orders, Penelope soon spits out the (be-slimed) kids, they are understandably wary of her. Desperate to prove herself friend-worthy, Penelope calls on her powers of restraint, with limited success (“Mrs. Noodleman, Penelope ate William Omoto again!”). She only recognizes her folly when the class goldfish takes a bite out of her finger: “Once Penelope found out what it was like to be someone’s snack, she lost her appetite for children.” Higgins builds his soft-around-the-edges cast out of dinosaurishly lumpy-craggy art. He is clearly having a ball, parodying parental-advice tropes (Penelope’s dad: “Sometimes it’s hard to make friends…Especially if you eat them”) while sending the message that fitting in is, although frequently difficult, almost always — eventually — 

From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Nell Beram
Nell Beram is coauthor of the young adult biography Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies (Amulet/Abrams), which made the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list and YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound list.

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