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Paulina P. (for Petersen)
by Lisa Cinar
AGES: 4 to 8
SIZE: 8.5 x 10
PRICES: US $16.95, Cdn $17.95
HARDCOVER: 978-1-897476-09-3

Quill & Quire - Starred Review!

Paulina Petersen prefers the letter P. And when you hear how Paulina puts it, who wouldn't? Being so partial is a perfectly pardonable predilection!

In her second book for children, author-illustrator Lisa Cinar shows, through a mix of simple rhyming narration and interjected speech bubbles, just how all-consuming Paulina's penchant for the letter P really is. In one of the book's more entertaining spreads, Paulina pretends to be a pharmacist with nothing but P-word remedies -- such as a pony pendant for sadness and a pine cone for repelling liars. 

The book's art, a combination of photo collages and childlike drawings, is an effective blend of media. Almost every page is picture-heavy and filled with P items for kids to identify along the way. Additionally, each use of the letter P is highlighted in colour, making the emphasis even clearer for little ones learning to read. 

Paulina P. also comes fully equipped with a life lesson. While Paulina is partial to all things P (including her best pal, Penny Lee), she must learn to accept that not everyone shares her passions. Penny Lee, for example, prefers hearts, chocolate, frilly dresses. "Preposterous!" replies Paulina. "Why can't people plainly see the beauty of the letter P?! Its an outrage! It's a shame! Why can't we be more the same?"

Paulina soon realizes, however, that if she forces others to be more like her, other could also force her to be more like them. This message of accepting each other's differences is executed in a fun and silly manner and doesn't come across as remotely heavy-handed. 

In all probability, the charming, smart, and energetic Paulina P. will promptly become the preferred picture book of your pint-sized progeny. 


Resource Links - Rating: Excellent 

Thematic links: Friends; Letter P; Hearts; Individuality; Acceptance

Paulina P. Petersen loves pajamas, pennies and pencils. She eats pickles, popsicles, and peas, and likes to play ping pong, pirates and pharmacist. When her best friend Penny Lee asks her to paint a polar bear holding a heart, Paulina says, "Preposterous! Hearts have nothing to do with the letter P!" Paulina loves the letter P so much she'll paint penguins in a zebra assignment and a pointy pencil in math class. It's not until Paulina starts daydreaming about a letter P loving world that she realizes she might becoming a pest. She sees unhappy people around her, and worst of all, she sees a vision of herself that makes her shudder! 

The front and back endpapers of this book are covered with frosted cookies. The letter P is the prominent shape here as it is in this book but the heart does appear on the enpapers and on the last page of the book too. Letter Ps mix with hearts because Paulina learns she can still be friends with Penny Lee despite their differences. 

Many words begin with the letter P in this story. When children are looking through the book, they can point out the coloured Ps that appear in teh text, or they can point to the illustrations that begin with P. For example, Paulina wears a letter P on her clothing - even when she is playing panda bear. This will help children with letter recognition. In addition, all the text is written in rhyme. For example, Paulina lets us know about her future occupation: "When I grow up, I'm sure you'll guess, I want to be a painter, yes!" 

The illustrations appear to be done in mixed media. I see photographs, collage, painting and pencil drawings. The colors are vibrant, the illustrations are fun, and thought bubbles throughout the story give readers additional P words to say, and insight into Paulina's feelings. She is certainly not shy about expressing herself! After reading this book, parents could segue into their own lesson about the first letter of their child's name.


Publisher's Weekly

Building a picture book around the charm of a single letter is a tall order, and despite some very energetic artwork, this alliterative celebration of all things P feels overlong. Paulina P., the book's P-obsessed heroine, is described in puffy patter (“paisley patterns, poetry,/ name anything that starts with P,/ Paulina loves it—/ INSTANTLY!”). She plays pirate (“Out of my way, Putrid Plankton!”), practices painting and can't understand her friend Penny Lee's interest in hearts (“Preposterous!” Paulina P. sputters. “Hearts have nothing to do with the letter P!”). In contrast to the one-note text, Cinar's (The Day It All Blew Away) spreads are varied, lighthearted and full of smiles, with a plethora of big, soft crayon lines, photographs and speech balloon dialogue. Paulina P. and her friends are stick figures with rotund bodies, freckles and cat ears; they're emotive even when they're not talking. Nascent self-awareness finally helps Paulina P. realize that not everyone needs to share her obsession (“But what if really I'm a pest/ that even monsters did detest?!”). Best for those with a penchant for wordplay. Ages 3–7. 


School Library Journal

From her polka-dotted underpants to polyester pantyhose, high-spirited Paulina is obsessed with her favorite letter. Though her playmate Penny Lee initially supports her friend's bossy demeanor, she eventually tries to expand their play by including materials featuring other letters of the alphabet. Paulina's unwavering interests are expressed through punchy dialogue. When Penny requests a heart in Paulina's painting, Paulina scoffs, "A heart?! Pha! Preposterous! Hearts have nothing to do with the letter P!" In a rapid turn of events, Paulina acknowledges that differences actually strengthen the girls' friendship. "I'll never stop being true to me! MY favorite thing is the letter P! And it's HEARTS for Penny Lee! Our differences suit us…PERFECTLY!" Demanding Paulina's incessant chatter about P-inspired items eventually grows tiresome, and her behavior changes too abruptly in this colorful narrative. With thick dark strokes and wide-eyed expressions, the off-kilter, mixed-media images convey a childlike frenzy.


CM Review

Pencils, pennies, pajamas, popsicles, poetry are just a few of the many things that Paulina loves and all because they start with her special, favourite letter. There are so many items that are deserving of her adoration. But objects or ideas that don’t start with P result in a sneer from Paulina and a comment that ... yes, you guessed it ... starts with P, like, preposterous and perplexing. Even during playtime, Paulina embodies people, place and items that start with P, from pirates, and plankton to a pharmacist. 
Of course, Paulina’s pharmacy has a variety of P medicines to make everyone feel better. Her best friend, Penny Lee, joins in the fun as they list activities that they enjoy, although Penny’s love of “hearts” is a fact that Paulina just can’t understand. 
internal artPaulina’s becoming a painter when she grows up is not a surprise, but her art and math teachers are frustrated with her preoccupation with the letter P. 

Paulina laments: 

Why can’t people plainly see 

the beauty of the letter P?! 
It’s an outrage! It’s a shame! 

Why can’t we be more the same?


After dreams that turn into nightmares, Paulina does acknowledge that differences can suit us “perfectly,” but she remains true to her first love ... the letter P! 
Cinar’s technique of choosing many words with the same letter to tell a tale is not new to children’s literature and has been used effectively by other writers more successfully, such as Margaret Atwood in her alliterative romp, Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut. However, there is no doubt that young readers will probably enjoy the word plays in Paulina P. (for Petersen), and teachers and parents will love the opportunities for vocabulary enrichment. 

Simple illustrations, using mixed media and collage art, highlight the rhythmic text which begs to be read-aloud. Cartoon-type drawings, with some of the text in balloons and every P colorfully highlighted, add to the fun. So be prepared to be peppered and provoked if you prefer all things P! 


"A very funny book about acceptance" - ABC Best Books for Children