Xander’s Panda Party (Linda Sue Park)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Xander’s Panda Party, written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Matt Phelan, a positively delightful story of a friendly panda’s party-planning woes.

Xander the panda has come up with a fantastic idea: a panda party! Only one problem, of course: Xander is the only panda at the zoo. So Xander decides to open up the party to all the bears, and sends invitations to his fellow ursines, but is surprised to find out from Koala that he is not a real bear but a marsupial. Not wanting Koala to be left out, Xander opts to invite all the mammals – but Rhino doesn’t want to go without his BFF bird. So a furred-and-feathered party it will be! Well, until Crocodile points out that reptiles and birds are distant relatives, so could the scaly zoo denizens come as well? With a little help from a salamander named Amanda and a new surprise friend, Xander finds out that the best parties are the ones where no one is excluded based on who or what they are.

Fantastic! This was such a treat. From the phenomenal, jaunty rhyming text to the adorable illustrations of zoo creatures big and small, this was a blast for us. The added bonus is the subtle lesson about inclusiveness, showing that categorizing people can often narrow our experiences and possibilities for friends and fun. The length was great, JJ went wild for the animals, and it was just wonderfully fresh and different story that was a joy to read aloud. A lovely story for party animals of any age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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