Linda Sue Park’s Xander’s Panda Party is both charming and heartwarming. Poor Xander the panda is at a crossroads in his social life and is having trouble trying to throw a panda party with all of the animals at the zoo. With so many different faces both left and right, it is up to this party planner extraordinaire to solve this problem by the end of the night. Will he be able to solve this issue that has no end in sight? When he soon realize that he is the only panda bear in the zoo, and that all bears are not alike?
Xander invites every bear of all shapes, sizes, and color to his party list. As he comes across other creatures in the zoo, who are small and tall, some with feathers and some with long tails, poor Xander feels frustrated with bearing the sole responsibility of getting the party right and doesn’t know what to do. With his head spinning and twirling in an attempt to create the perfect invitation, humor gives way to this story on his attempt to follow through with the plan.
It is not without a little patience and help from an unexpected guest, that they’re able to create an invitation that seeks to bring out Xander’s best. Having accomplished his goal, Xander is rewarded for his patience with a gift when a special new friend arrives at the zoo.
Rhythmic rhymes and alliterations that rolls right off the reader’s tongue. Xander’s ability to realize the importance of having generosity of spirit is relatable and can be transferred on all levels to many of our life experiences. Through messages of friendship and inclusion, Park and illustrator Matt Phelan’s book is one that will keep you entertained and most importantly leave a smile on any reader’s face. You’ll definitely don’t want to miss out on this party.
Title: Xander’s Panda Party
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Publisher: Clarion Books 2013
Age Suitability: 4-8 years