The important background information about me for this post is that penguins are my favorite animal. My love long pre-dates the hollywood frenzy, although I fully enjoyed the frenzy and sat gleefully among the 7 year olds at the movies. Although I can’t remember a time when I did not love penguins, and therefore cannot entirely track the love to its source, I attribute its beginnings to a combination of the central park zoo and having MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS read to me.
Anyway, the point is, I’m highly attuned to notice any penguin-related things I might happen upon in daily life, of which there aren’t all that many really (unlike, for example, my friend whose love of cats leads her to exclaim “Kitty!” whenever she sees cats or cat images, which happens kind of a lot between commercials, you tube, magazines, etc). But, I was browsing the picture book aisle at Barnes and Noble last weekend, and noted a remarkable number of penguin titles out on display. So, without further ado, I bring you…The Penguin Picture Book Review!*
A PENGUIN STORY by Antoinette Portis: Penguin looks for something other than black, white, or blue. This is a great picture book – a fun and inventive story, good pictures, and a great but non-didactic message about imagining what might exist beyond what you know or what has always been – just because it doesn’t exist (in your world), that doesn’t mean it couldn’t exist either elsewhere or in the future.
TURTLE’S PENGUIN DAY by Valeri Gorbachev: Turtle pretends to be a penguin all day. His classmates join in. It is fun. I enjoyed this one, a simple but fun story, and very cute illustrations. I think as a child reading this book I would have been inclined to draw some very literal inspiration and done some waddling around and sliding on my belly.
IF YOU WERE A PENGUIN by Wendell & Florence Minor: I found this one pretty boring. Its mostly just basic penguin facts.
WHERE IS HOME LITTLE PIP? by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman: A young penguin gets lost from the rookery and asks the various other animals he encounters, “Where is home?” There is, however, room in the question for grammatical misunderstanding, and each animal answers by explaining where its own home is, which is not the same, see, as where Little Pip’s home is. Oh, and they answer in verse, which is where I started to lose interest a bit. And the ending is slightly saccharine. But…the illustrations are great! Little Pip is so cute. Even by penguin standards.
PENGUINS by Liz Pichon: Penguins at the zoo discover a lost camera — antics ensue. A good but not great book. The illustrations are funny. The best part really was there’s some list-making activity. I like lists.
365 PENGUINS by Jean-Luc Fromental & Joelle Jolivet: A family receives a penguin a day in the mail for a year. I was torn on this one. The story is fun, there are some funny bits, and the illustrations are nicely detailed with the various family members’ reactions to the penguins taking over the house. My complaint is that there’s all this math snuck in, which feels, well, sneaky. (They have to calculate how much fish to buy, etc, and the father keeps finding different ways to group, arrange, and organize the penguins – my favorite is in filing cabinets). After all, I signed up to read a book about penguins, not to do some multiplication drills!
*Hee hee, it rhymes! I wasn’t even doing it on purpose, it just came out that way! Wow, look what happens when I post in a silly mood. This could easily spin out of control.