Tag: penguins

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa

yours-sincerely-giraffe-by-megumi-iwasa

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake (9781927271889)

Giraffe is bored and he’s just missing one thing: a best friend. So when he sees Pelican, who is also bored, offering a mail service, he decides to write a letter. He asks Pelican to deliver it to the first animal he sees past the horizon. Pelican sees that the horizon looks very close, so he agrees. Pelican meets a seal who also delivers mail and sends the letter on to the next animal, which happens to be a Penguin. Giraffe and Penguin become pen pals and steadily become good friends. Soon Giraffe is trying to figure out what Penguin looks like from afar, but doesn’t get it quite right.

First published in Japan, this book is a very friendly chapter book with plenty of illustrations to break the text into manageable chunks. There is a warm playfulness throughout the book, inviting readers to see the humor in boredom and the solution of taking some sort of action to break through the tedium. The characters are well drawn and interesting, each with a unique personality that plays through naturally in the book.

The illustrations by Takabatake are done in fine lined black ink. They have a cartoon feel that embraces the light tone of the book. The illustrations work well with the text, creating action on the page that is very appealing.

A light and warm look at boredom and friendship that is a great read aloud. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Gecko Press.

 

Penguin Problems by Jory John

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Penguin Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith (InfoSoup)

One rather grumpy penguin takes readers on a tour of all the things that are wrong in his penguin life. There is the cold, the snow, the crowd of other penguins who make too much noise and all look like him. The sea is too salty. The sun is too bright. There are predators in the water. He waddles when he walks and can’t fly. It goes on and on. Then a wise walrus overhears the penguin and explains that he is wasting his one life focused on the negative rather than the spectacular beauty around him. But is the penguin ready to hear this? Maybe for a moment or two.

John’s text is uproariously funny. The litany of complaints is cleverly written and ends up having a rather jaunty if petulant rhythm to it. Even children will recognize that there are some people who just complain all the time. The walrus’ wisdom is rich and lovely, delivered as a lecture and something that makes this book even more fun to share aloud. Even better is the penguin’s reaction, which ends the book in just the right way.

Smith’s art adds to the humor. The penguin looks like all the others but has a personality all his own. The illustrations use a subtle color palette filled with shades of whites and grays to create the snowy landscape. Against that, the penguins pop. The dark underwater scenes are deep and menacing, setting a great contrast to the snow.

Don’t miss the book jacket where the penguin greets readers with his attitude right from the start. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Books for Young Readers.

 

 

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant

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Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Christian Robinson (InfoSoup)

Five little penguin siblings head out into the snow on the first day of winter. There are many snowflakes in the air while they put on mittens, scarves and boots. The snow is very deep by the time they get dressed and outside. They play in the snow and then head back inside where they pull off their winter gear, put their pajamas on, have warm cookies and sippy cups. That night, they are warm in bed but one of them is still looking out the window at winter arriving.

Newbery Award winner, Cynthia Rylant has written this book with exactly the right amount of text for toddlers and young preschoolers. There is a lovely loose rhythm to the words, an excitement of new falling snow that is generated on the page. The rush to get ready, the enjoyment of their time playing outside and the warmth of returning inside to coziness is all nicely captured. Children who love snow themselves will recognize their days in these little penguins.

Robinson’s illustrations make this book very special. His bold colors, strong shapes and use of space create a lot of drama on the page. The way that each little penguin has their own color adds an element that parents and teachers can use to talk about the book. There is also the chance to count to five again and again. The huge flakes of snow are a delight to the eye, creating a feeling of joy and wonder on each page.

A toddler-friendly picture book, this is a cheery book celebrating the coming winter. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.

 

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin (InfoSoup)

Three friends head out for a quiet picnic together that will end up leading them on a wild adventure. There is an opinionated vulture, a friendly but rather slow dog, and a motherly bear. On their picnic, they meet two creatures who will change their day entirely. Little Dee is a human and a resourceful child who doesn’t speak at all. Then there is the penguin who is on the run from the polar bears who are hot on his trail. Now it is up to the five of them to get the penguin back to his home before he ends up a  meal. Along the way, planes are stolen and jumped out of, wise mountain goats offer sage advice (maybe), and safety rafts become sleds. Much the same way that five unlikely characters become friends.

Baldwin has created a cast of lovable characters in this graphic novel for children. The humor is truly laugh-out-loud funny. It got to the point where I was following family members around to share one-liners from the story. In fact a large part of the success of this book is in the blend of a funny story in general and then the way that circumstances seem to invisibly line up for the perfect pun or joke with impeccable timing.

The art is wonderful too. Each character is unique and their outward appearance says a lot about their personalities. The prickly vulture is all angles. The bear is soft plush. Little Dee is a jolt of visual energy. The action is captured with a sense of fun throughout, adding to the fast pace.

A silly and very successful read, this graphic novel will be enjoyed by all. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Gordon and Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser

Gordon and Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser

Gordon and Tapir by Sebastian Meschenmoser (InfoSoup)

Gordon is a very tidy penguin who lives with a very untidy tapir. The two of them simply can’t get along together. Tapir takes all of the toilet paper to make a hammock in his room and a hat to go with it. He doesn’t do the dishes and the living room has started to look like a jungle. Tapir has complaints about Gordon too. Gordon is too orderly and won’t let Tapir join his club of penguins. Finally Gordon has had enough, particularly when Tapir’s friend moves in and lives in the bathroom. So Gordon moves out. Tapir misses him dreadfully, but Gordon soon reaches out and the two discover that sometimes friendships work best when you don’t share the same space.

Shortlisted for the German Children’s Book of the Year, this picture book is entirely delightful. A large part of that comes from the skillful mix of anthropomorphic animals but also keeping them very realistic as well. These are real-feeling animals who just happen to have couches, dishes and bathrooms. The art is beautifully and detailed, allowing the text to fade into the background for much of the book. My favorite pages are actually free of text as the two of them struggle to make living together work.

The use of the odd-couple dynamics in the book doesn’t feel stale at all and is further freshened by the unique animals chosen as the protagonists. Young readers will want to discover more about Tapirs even if they are slovenly. The book has a lovely story arc that gives a satisfying ending to the book, one that young readers will appreciate as they navigate their own friendships whether they are the tidy or messy one.

A clever look at friendships that gives new life to an old trope. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Review: Bob and Flo by Rebecca Ashdown

Bob and Flo by Rebecca Ashdown

Bob and Flo by Rebecca Ashdown (InfoSoup)

In a story perfect for small children starting daycare or preschool, this picture book shows how to make new friends and share. Bob really likes Flo’s pink bucket that she brought with her to school. When Flo is busy painting a picture, her bucket disappears. She looks for it everywhere. She notices that Bob has a new pink hat at one point. Then she sees him making a tall tower of blocks standing on something pink. She sees him playing a pink drum. And then at the playground, she finally spies her bucket by the slide. Bob is there too, stuck at the top of the slide. Happily, Flo knows just what to do to help and all it takes is a good pink bucket.

Such a simple book but told so very well. Ashdown perfectly captures the unique ways preschool children interact with one another, often playing alongside each other than right together. She weaves in the humor of Flo seeing her bucket over and over again and not recognizing it. That plays nicely against the creativity that Bob uses when playing with the bucket on each page. Toddler audiences will love spotting the bucket on each page spread.

Ashdown’s illustrations are cheery and bright. The sunny yellow background allows the grey and white penguins to shine on each page. The basic toys around them, evoke every preschool or daycare around. Then the penguins themselves have texture and patterns that give them personality and also make them seem more real and more childlike.

Perfect for returning to preschool in the fall, this picture book is just as much fun as a bucket. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Blown Away by Rob Biddulph

blown away

Blown Away by Rob Biddulph

Penguin Blue has a brand new kite but when he flies it, it lifts him right off the ice and up into the air. Two other penguins try to help and get swept along too. Wilbur the harp seal tries to catch them and joins the group flying along. Blue calls out for help from a polar bear and then Clive is riding along too, his boat and all. They are finally dropped on a lush warm jungle isle where they all agree it is way too hot. Blue has a great solution though, it will just take Clive’s boat, leaves and vines and one good gust of wind that is provided by the elephants on the island. Soon the group are back in their icy home, but there is one stowaway from the island who now needs to figure out how to get back to the warmth of the jungle.

This romp of a picture book is filled with a positive feel throughout. Each new challenge is playfully presented and merrily dealt with through clever solutions. The text rhymes and creates a jaunty cheer that makes this book great fun to share aloud. The rhyming story is written very strongly with a great story arc that solidly supports the humor. This is a book that is immensely satisfying to read.

The design of the book is stellar with playful word design and placement that enhances the strong illustrations. The book is beautifully illustrated with images filled with strong graphic elements, deep colors and also small playful touches. Children will enjoy lingering over the illustrations and spotting the penguins waiting for the bus on an ice floe and the bear losing his map immediately. The combination of strong vivid illustrations and small details make for a book that has its own unique vibe.

A great read-aloud for any penguin story time, this picture book will be enjoyed by preschoolers looking for a complete and playful story. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.