Marvelous Picture Books: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

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Just about everyone knows the story of Lilly, the adorable little mouse, and her purple plastic purse. This infamous book written by the also infamous Kevin Henkes still stands as a favorite, even over a decade after it was published. Lilly is a favorite character by many. Although she is a mouse, her actions are so characteristic of early elementary school students. What kindergartner doesn’t adore their teacher and want to grow up to be a teacher… or “a dancer or a surgeon or an ambulance driver or a diva or a pilot or a hairdresser or a scuba diver?”
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Lilly loves her new purple plastic purse, her shiny quarters and her glittery movie star sunglasses. And just like any young student, she cannot contain her excitement and wants to share with the whole class. After being told over and over again by her cool teacher to put them away, she gets them taken up by her now not so cool teacher.
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Lilly leaves a mean drawing, but Mr. Slinger remains cool about it, leaving Lilly feeling pretty bad about her decision. Lilly’s story teaches kids about patience and understanding, which are especially difficult areas for younger children.
What makes this book especially marvelous though, are the illustrations. While the majority of the illustrations are small, they add an additional layer to the story. The illustrations show what the text describes, but also show a little more. Each illustration really exemplifies how Lilly thinks and act. And as her manipulative looking faces and sly grins are seen, she is very reminiscent of a kindergartner or first grader. In this way, the book is also great for parents and early elementary teachers to read to gain better insight into the funny mind of a kindergartner.

-Spencer Ann Besaw

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