Book review: Penguin Problems, from Jory John and Lane Smith

John, Jory. Penguin Problems. Illustrated by Lane Smith. Random House, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9780553513370. Ages 3-7. P8Q9

john-penguin-problemsIn Penguin Problems, we meet a penguin with problems. Our anti-hero has a gift for focusing on all the negative things in his life—which is everything. He doesn’t like snow, the sun’s too bright, the ocean is too salty, and he waddles too much. The little penguin goes about his day comically addressing all the challenges he faces, until he meets a wise walrus who instructs him to seek out the beauty surrounding him. Will the penguin heed the walrus’s advice, or ignore him and sink ever lower into his constant disappointment? The penguin and his antarctic surroundings are portrayed in a furry, almost pointillist style by illustrator Lane Smith. Generous negative space and exaggerated features add to the humor of the story. Penguin Problems successfully highlights the significance of perspective in daily life. As proclaimed by the walrus, who is very lost or has travelled from the North Pole just to deliver his message, a positive perspective is often a matter of choice.

November 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.


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