“Tony Baloney is a macaroni… penguin” are the first words to the fun and energetic story of Tony’s life. Pam Munoz Ryan and Edwin Fotheringham take the reader on the adventures of Tony’s daily life, learning about his likes (fish tacos with parmesan cheese) and his dislikes (trouble), as well as his family life. As the only boy in the family of macaroni penguins, Tony is also stuck in the middle. Tony does not like to play with his twin, baby sisters (also known as the Bothersome Babies Baloney) and his only option is usually playing with his older sister (Big Sister Baloney) who is always the boss. Tony, like most younger siblings would agree on, thinks that it is unfair that he never gets to be the boss and has to be the cat.
When Tony can no longer stand being bossed around by his big sister and his little sisters are getting on his nerves, his pet stuffed animal, Dandelion, starts to act out for him. Tony makes his feelings known through Dandelion and then the two of them retreat to their secret hideout. Dandelion takes on the role as “therapist” as Tony explains why he is so mad and why he started to misbehave. Using italics, the authors signify when Dandelion is giving his advice to Tony and “after Tony Baloney has been in the hidey-space for maybe a year, or twenty minutes”, he goes to apologize to his family. In the end, his big sister shares her role as boss for a little and they include the babies to play as well. And, although Tony doesn’t have to be the cat anymore, his sister gives him a different role (read the story to find out ;-)).
This book is a wonderful story for children as it has so many different points that can be related to different children. It contrasts the differences between the places of the siblings and how they don’t always get along, which any sibling can relate to. And for the only children reading this story, it’s easy to relate to the fact that there is not always going to be someone around that you want to play with. Instead, this is where Dandelion comes in. He acts as an outlet for Tony’s thoughts and feelings, much like many young children have a transitional object that they use when they don’t feel like talking for themselves. He also represents Tony’s conscience and gives Tony the advice that Tony himself already knew in his mind. Most, if not all, families have seen their children get into fights and make up again over and over and it is no different in this loving story of macaronis. Finally, the wonderful element of color added throughout all of the illustrations makes the pictures pop and keeps the child’s eyes entertained. The bright green, blue, red and yellow keep the eyes engaged and leave the reader wanting to read on.
This book is great for intermediate readers who are looking for more of a challenge. With words like Parmesan, exasperating and Bothersome, it is sure to get the child’s mind working. Smartly, I think, the authors used the “alternate” way to spell baloney, instead of its correct spelling. I admit that without the Oscar Meyer commercials I probably still would not know how to spell bologna (and yes, I still sing the song to myself if I need to spell it). The book’s content and age level just does not jive with the age group who can look at “bologna” and know what the word spells and means. Smart choice authors!
This book is a wonderful read for younger ones and, my favorite Baloney’s name is no long OSCAR… it’s TONY!