cover image Penelope Jane: A Fairy's Tale [With CD]

Penelope Jane: A Fairy's Tale [With CD]

Rosanne Cash. HarperCollins, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027543-3

Karas's (Home on the Bayou) animated illustrations save the day for Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Cash's first children's book, told in unaccomplished rhyming text. Penelope Jane is a tiny French fairy (""Tall as an eyelash/ quick as a plane"") who lives with her fairy mom in five-year-old Carrie's top dresser drawer. Tired of studying fairy rules at her own tiny school, Penelope Jane decides to stow away on Carrie's shoulder and explore human-size academia. A string of classroom mishaps earns Penelope Jane time in the corner, feeling horribly out of place. But before things get too sad, Penelope Jane turns into a hero. Inspired by Cash's song ""How to Be Strong"" (attributed in the story to Penelope Jane's mother), the little fairy's confidence and quick thinking help prevent a fire emergency. The text sometimes stumbles to accommodate the rhyming couplet format, and the language lacks luster (""Our wild little fairy felt sorry and sad./ She slunk to the corner; she knew she'd been bad""). Fortunately, Karas's childlike gouache-and-pencil scenes add some oomph. His views of tiny flitting fairies sitting at their acorn desks, Carrie's frazzled teacher and the bemused classroom pet Mr. Turtle emphasize motion and just a little mischief. A CD recording of ""How to Be Strong"" is included. Ages 4-8. (May)