Tag: penguins

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.

Review: Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

flora and the penguin

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

This is a delightful wintry follow-up to Flora and the Flamingo, a book that stole my heart when it came out.  With clear connections to the ballet of the first book, this second book has Flora on ice skates swirling with a penguin.  Flora puts on her skates and the penguin climbs out of the water and the two glide together across the page, through different flaps to lift, landing synchronized jumps side-by-side.  But then the penguin disappears back into the water and Flora is left skating alone.  The penguin returns with a fish for Flora, but Flora tosses it back into the water.  The penguin is entirely angry and dejected, so Flora figures out how to repair the budding friendship. 

Idle tells so much in her wordless books.  Who knew that a penguin could communicate so very clearly with the tip of its head, the tilt of its wings and the set of its shoulders.  Flora too communicates her feelings clearly on the page to great effect.  It’s a book that explores friendship, dance and the joy of winter play.

The illustrations are top notch, they invite the reader to glide along with them.  The flaps on different pages are ingenious ways to have readers participate, culminating in one amazing jump the two characters do together.  They amazingly leap right off the page, or perhaps it’s the book that leaps out to catch them.  Beautiful, icy and pure joy.

Another magnificent offering by Molly Idle, this book will be embraced by fans of the first and will make a great holiday gift.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Review: Snowcial by Chelsea Prince


Snowcial: An Antarctic Social Network Story by Chelsea Prince, photography by Keoki Flagg and Robert Pittman

This nonfiction book follows the journey of a family to visit the Antarctic Peninsula.  They travel aboard an icebreaker ship that has an ice breaking hull but sails only in warmer temperatures.  Along the way, the children in the family, Anna and Rory explore the ship.  They watch the different birds that follow the ship and find out information on their habitat and how they survive out at sea.  Soon they are seeing icebergs, glaciers and lots of snow and ice.  They also get to visit places where penguins and seals live.  They even spot some killer whales hunting in the ocean.  A mix of science and exploration, this book invites readers along on a journey to an icy world that is full of life.

Price sets just the right tone with her book.  She writes with a merry voice, one that invites children reading the book to learn right alongside her and her characters.  Throughout the book there is a sense of adventure and a strong tie to information and science.  This is a book that teaches in an easy and welcoming way.

While Price sets the tone, the incredible photography from Flagg and Pittman truly capture the setting.  Their close ups of wounded penguins, hunted seals, and the activity of a penguin colony truly allow readers to see Antarctica up close.  Their photography is visually beautiful but also a way to learn more about this incredible place.

Brilliant science nonfiction, join the journey to Antarctica with this gorgeous book.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Chelsea Print and Publishing.

Review: The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems by Lauren Myracle

life of ty

The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems by Lauren Myracle, illustrated by Jed Henry

Ty is seven years old and has a pretty complicated life.  He has a new baby sister who is taking all of his mom’s time and attention.  His older sisters won’t walk him into school like his mom used to, insisting that he can do it all on his own.  His best friend is in the hospital battling cancer, and Ty’s other friends can be confusing and even alarming.  Ty keeps getting into trouble at home for things like chasing the cat with a Dustbuster.  Then on the school trip to the aquarium, Ty takes a baby penguin home with him.  This is one wild boy who is also big hearted and caring, just not sure how best to show it. 

Myracle, who writes teen books primarily, has created a truly exceptional book for younger readers.  Ty is a character who is easily relatable, even when he does some extremely unusual things, like stealing a penguin.  His home life will be familiar to many children, who will have older siblings and babies in their families too.  Add to that the universal feelings of being asked to do big-kid things too early and also being treated like a baby, and you get a book that is universally appealing.

Myracle’s writing has an outstanding humor throughout.  In the more dramatic moments, children will understand that things will be alright in the end.  The black and white illustrations by Henry convey that humor and lightness as well. 

Perfect for both reading aloud and for a child reading on their own, this book will be enjoyed by fans of the Stink series as well as those who like Clementine.  This book would pair well with The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Dutton.