Review of We Will Rock Our Classmates

We Will Rock Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins; illus. by the author
Primary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.    g
7/20    978-1-368-05959-6    $17.99

This second installment about T. rex Penelope (We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, rev. 9/18) centers on the school talent show. Penelope loves to rock and roll, and using her “bravest purple marker,” she signs up to perform — but her anxieties get the best of her (“Can dinosaurs even play guitar?” asks an unhelpful schoolmate). It isn’t until Daddy Rex gives her a pep talk (“Being a T. rex is only part of who you are”) and shows her a family photo album spotlighting her ancestors’ varied achievements (including competitive eating and figure skating) that Penelope gets the courage to try again. Higgins employs thick lines and lush hues in illustrations “created using scans of treated clayboard for textures, graphite, ink, and Photoshop.” Strong use of scale and perspective effectively emphasizes the otherness Penelope feels. A mixture of layouts and formats paces the visual narrative steadily, complementing the rhythmic and spirited text. Humorous asides appear in speech balloons, with dialogue adding depth to both story line and characters. The cast of humans reflects a variety of racial identities, physical abilities, sizes, ages, and religions. Endpapers feature a classroom clothesline display adorned with artwork made by real-life children (the author thanks them in the dedication).

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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