If you have been around Books On My Cat awhile, you may have noticed my affinity for penguins (especially when it comes to children’s literature). While this does not quite follow in that line, this charming little book would be a delight for penguin aficionado. It caught my eye in the discount section of a new bookstore I visited some time back, and I decided that it definitely needed a good home.
I read through this one quickly, as it is not really written to be a lengthy endeavor. It would make a nice “coffee table book”—something to set out and peruse at your leisure. The book is informational, but written much more casually than any sort of text or nature guide. There is a relatively short blurb for each bird, accompanied by a watercolor drawing. I definitely found the information shared to be interesting, but really enjoyed each of the drawings. They were well done and, well, delightful. Each was a simple and straightforward portrayal, although still managing to include a good amount of detail.
I would also like to share a laughable moment that I had while reading. As I mentioned, I thought the drawings were well done, and took note of several throughout. Midway through the book, I was a bit discouraged to find one that did not seem to be done so well: the Crested Auklet. It looked a bit like a cartoon character, with the beak bent into a sort of smile and eyes that seemed much too simplified. I decided that I needed to check out the actual bird for comparison, and to my surprise, the drawing had been spot on!
Minka’s Thoughts: “Do you think penguins would want to play with me? Maybe the hopper ones? Can we hop together? 4 paws if we can play!”
Over the years, I have amassed quite the collection of Penguin-centric children’s literature. While Tacky is certainly the character I relate to the most, the Penguin created by Salina Yoon is by far the sweetest. There are several books about Penguin’s adventures with his friends, sometimes venturing far from the ice world that is his home. In this fall adventure, Penguin learns what fall looks like away from home, and brings back a special fall surprise for his little brother, Pumpkin.
When Penguin and his friends decide to visit a farm to learn what fall looks like off the ice, Pumpkin is still too small to come on such a far journey. Penguin and the others set out on an iceberg for their long trip to the farm, with the size of their vessel gradually diminishing as they get further from home. At the farm, they discover pumpkins of all varieties, and put together a harvest package to bring home. They even build themselves a new boat for the way back, made from a giant pumpkin! Back home, Pumpkin has been imagining some fall adventures of his own, but is very curious about the real fall. He is excited to have his very own pumpkin brought back for him, but the real surprise is the extra bit of fall Penguin brought so he could see what fall really looks like– snowing leaves!
Like I started with, this is a super cute and sweet story. First of all, I think it’s adorable that Penguin has a little brother named Pumpkin. The illustrations are well done and add some fun details into the story. I love the little details like the dwindling ice berg on the journey, and Sleepy Penguin who always seems to be dozing off. There are some bits of conversation added in to the story along with the narrative text. The books are definitely aimed at younger children, with many available as board books. These are fun as read aloud or bedtime stories, with great things to point out to kids in the pictures throughout the book.
Boris’s thoughts: “Did you notice that we get both of the falls that are in this book– the snowing leaves and the real snow! Both fun to watch. 4 paws.”
To kick off September, I have one more book to add to my collection of children’s books featuring penguins. There is something undeniably delightful about these silly little black and white waddling creatures. Of course, even penguins have problems—it’s always cold, they can’t fly, and everyone looks so much alike! Our lead penguin is having a rough day, and there is no end to his list of complaints about the world. However, he gets some advice from a wise walrus who reminds him that if you are looking for something to complain about, you will always find it. Life not always perfect, but that does not mean that you cannot find joy in what you have.
While this does not top my list for children’s literature, the book is cute, short, and easy to follow. There is not much of a story, but just enough to carry things through the pages. I can see this being popular with younger kids, which makes sense with this particular edition as a board book. The story has a touch of cynicism, which is good for at least a chuckle from adult readers, but likely would not be picked up by kids. This would be good as a read aloud story one-on-one with a younger child, who perhaps does not have the stamina to sit and attend to longer picture books.
Boris’s thoughts: “Interesting to learn about the problems of other species, but penguins couldn’t possibly have more problems than cats. Did you know I only had time for 5 naps today? 2 paws.”
At the risk of seeming unfairly biased toward books about penguins, I present to you this lovely new discovery of mine. Penguin has grown tired of his regular penguin diet. He has heard stories of a wonderful food that he must investigate for himself– cupcakes. Penguin sets off on a search for a cupcake. There are none at the South Pole where he lives, so he heads north. Perhaps a bit too far north.
In addition to a cute story, there are quite a few “extras” woven into the book that I very much enjoyed. Most of these start as informational asides, but also include a little laugh for adults reading along. For example, Penguin meets a walrus who is on a strict kelp diet. However, it’s noted that walruses do not generally eat kelp. This walrus has some body image issues, and is trying to meet an unrealistic physical ideal.
I see this particular book as a fun read aloud, or perhaps a good book for adults to read with children. It seems it might be more enjoyable as a joint reading, as opposed to something kids may read on their own. The side notes that I enjoyed do include some more difficult words that kids would likely struggle with independently, and there may be some explanations needed.
Boris’s thoughts: “I hope that penguin is willing to share the cupcakes. What do you mean there aren’t any real cupcakes? 1 paw!”
No blog that belongs to me could ever be complete without some at least some picture books, and I certainly can’t think of a better place to start than with Tacky. While it may be said that I am a bit biased toward penguins in general, Tacky is most definitely one of my favorite characters from children’s literature.
I suppose I should start by saying that if it were possible to have a fictional spirit animal, Tacky would probably be mine. (There is another character I also relate pretty well to, but we will just have to save that for a future post!) Tacky is a bit odd. He does not quite fit in with the other pretty penguins. He marches to the beat of his own drum (1-2-3, 4-2, 3-6-0, 2 1/2, 0). Nonetheless, Tacky always turns out to be a good bird to have around.
While I wouldn’t exactly call it a “series,” there are several books featuring the adventures (or perhaps more accurately, the mis-adventures) of Tacky and his penguin companions. I have not read all of these, but have enjoyed all of those that I have encountered. Tacky is a great character for showing kids that it’s okay to be different– and sometimes even advantageous.