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PPBF: The Incredible, Shrinking Lunchroom

This wonderful picture book retelling of a Yiddish folktale is written by Michal Babay (I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog) and illustrated by Paula Cohen Martin (Big Dreams, Small Fish). As a mentor text, it's inspiring. It's a modern retelling of a classic tale that really works and is relevant to kids. It has engaging scenes, a wonderful theme and a great message with takeaway for the child reader (and us adults, as well). It both uses the rules to its benefit and also breaks them.

This story has a both a "group of child main character" rather than one, and an "adult main character," both of which are not often found in current picture books. Why does this work here?

This story focuses on characters / a problem that kids can identify with. While the principal, Miss Mensch, technically drives the story forward and solves the story problem with her wisdom, the children are not without an active role and an arc. When these children are faced with the problem of what they perceive as a crowded lunchroom, they band together and write a letter to the appropriate authority. And while they at first seem to have failed in their attempts (the principal's responses do not seem to solve the problem), they continue to write letters. Ultimately, they allow the failures to change their thinking. So much to wonderful stuff all in one story, including, class pets, logic, humor and more!

The children's actions of writing the letters are the impetus as to what brings about the final satisfying resolution. And their change of perception is what really solidifies it. So, the children have changed as a result of their journey and, the problem is solved! Such a clever story and such an important lesson in appreciating what you have!

With its fun and quirky illustrations by the late Paula Cohen Martin and its important lesson in perspective, this picture book makes a great back-to-school gift for children and/or teachers and librarians! Get your copy here:

REVIEW BY: Lynne Marie

Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -- art by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -- art by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- art by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- art by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling / Scholastic 2019), Let’s Eat! Mealtime Around the World -- art by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books 2019), The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project AND The Three Little Pigs and the Rocket Project Coloring Book -- art by Wendy Fedan (Mac and Cheese Press 2022), The Palace Rat -- art by Eva Santana (Yeehoo Press, 2023), and more forthcoming...

She’s also the Owner and Administrator of both (which is currently taking 2022 Members at and, as well as a long-time Travel Agent with (! She's been a Cybil's Judge in the Fiction Picture Books and Board Books category since 2016. Recently, she's been handed the ReFoReMo torch from Kirsti Call and Carrie Charley Brown, which will return under it's new name March On With Mentor Texts in March, 2022 ( You can join her at her weekly Tinker and Talk Book Chat here: Tinker and Talk Book Chat by The Picture Book Mechanic | Facebook When she’s not searching for stories all over the globe, she lives on a lake in South Florida with her family, a Schipperke named Anakin and several resident water birds. Visit her at Lynne Marie is represented by Marisa Cleveland of



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