The Second Sky by Patrick Guest, illustrated by Jonathan Bentley (9780802855206)
A little penguin wants to learn to fly, but he is more fuzz than feathers and doesn’t have very long wings. So when he tries to flap and fly, he ends up falling onto his bottom. His parents try to explain that he is a penguin and not a goose, but Gilbert won’t give up. He wants to reach the stars and fly above mountains. When Gilbert’s feathers come in, he tries some more to fly, but still can’t leave the ground. Inspired by an albatross flying above him, he heads to a cliff and jumps off. Instead of flying though, he tumbles down the side and into the sea. It is there, in the deep water, the Gilbert realizes that penguins can fly too, just in their own way.
Shortlisted for the 2018 Early Childhood Book of the Year by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, this picture book combines incredible illustrations with a strong story of finding your own way to reach your dreams. Gilbert is a hardy and fearless little fellow, determined to fly. The moment when he is at the top of the cliff is a huge turning point in his story and readers will be holding their breath to see what happens. The result is exceptionally satisfying.
Bentley’s illustrations are lovely. They capture the vistas of the frozen landscape, have the solid black figures of the other penguins. Yet they also soften around Gilbert and his fuzz, showing a rotund little penguin with big dreams. That softness plays nicely against the ice and snow. When Gilbert enters the water and the pages fill with blues and greens, the colors seem even more intense and vivid.
A little penguin with big dreams whose story is worth reading. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers