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The Picture Book Buzz

This Book is Upside Down - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I remember reading lying upside down on the couch, my head dangling toward the floor, as I read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. I loved the description of her upside-down house and would spend hours imagining what it would be like to live there or what my house would be like upside-down.

Perhaps that's why I found this week's #PPBF choice so funny. Or maybe it's because I have a soft spot for giraffes and penguins. Either way, in addition to playing with the character's physical perspectives, this book opens the possibility for discussions about differing perceptions of one's actions, comments, or beliefs.

This Book is Upside Down

Author: Erin Rose Wage

Illustrator: Simona Ceccarelli

Publisher: Phoenix International Publications (2020)

Ages: 4-8



Humor, friendship, and word play.


Penelope Giraffe and Gus Penguin are at home on two different sides of the same world. When something looks upside down to Penelope, it looks right-side up to Gus! As they explore their opposite points of view, will the twosome ever see eye-to-eye? This side-splitting, one-of-kind story will have you standing on your head...which wouldn't look silly to Gus at all.

Opening Lines:

You know something?

I think this book is upside down.

Uh . . .

What I Liked about this book:

I couldn't help but fall in love with the crooked-neck Penelope and Gus, with his vibrant Hawaiian shirt. Always depicted on the verso side, Penelope tries to read a book - humorously titled Tea for Two - which she's convinced it's upside down. Gus, however, upside down on the ceiling (recto side), believes that the book is right side up and Penelope is upside down.

Utilizing lots of white space Simona focuses the reader on the personalities of Penelope and Gus and their banter. So, her occasional use of green behind Penelope and blue behind Gus reinforces their different locations and perspectives.

Text © Erin Rose Wage, 2020. Image © Simona Ceccarelli, 2020.

After a bit of comic word play, Penelope attempts to prove to Gus that her perspective is correct and that he and the book are upside down.

Text © Erin Rose Wage, 2020. Image © Simona Ceccarelli, 2020.

Curious about how Gus got "up there," Penelope's hilarious jumping sequence and a full spread with a black background combine to signal a change in perspectives and Penelope's arrival on the ceiling.

The humorous debate continues to the end, requiring a number of rotations of the book itself and ultimately leaving the resolution up in the air. There are many literary and illustration nuggets tucked throughout the book to keep readers and listeners well entertained. I love that the end pages match their clothing and that Penelope & Gus's tea pot and cups are identical to those on the Tea for Two cover. Overall, this is a very entertaining comedy book with an unusual and fun orientation.


- can you draw a picture or write a story about two other people or animals that have different points of view?

- what are some ways that you turn upside down? (Maybe hanging on the monkey bars or leaning back when swinging).

- tape a piece of paper under a table or chair, lie on the floor, and draw a picture. How did you discover about drawing upside-down?


If you missed the interview of Simona Ceccarelli on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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