Book review: Blue Penguin, by Petr Horáček

Horáček, Petr. Blue Penguin. Candlewick Press, 2016. Unpaged. 15.99. ISBN 9780763692513. Ages 3-6. P7Q7

A single blue penguin is born into a flock of black and white penguins and becomes isolated in his differences.  As the blue penguin sings his songs of loneliness and dreams of a white whale, another penguin listens, learns the songs and becomes a friend.  Other penguins, too, being to listen, which changes the songs from those of loneliness to songs of friendship.  When a huge, white whale responds to the first song, and comes to take the blue penguin away, the other penguins ask him to stay.

Mixed media illustrations use spashes of color in the snowy Antarctic to carry the blue penguin’s sense of isolation and then his growing inclusion in the penguin community.

Verdict: I recommend this story of friendship and community for preschool, elementary, and public library collections.

January 2017 review by Jane Cothron.


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.

Book review: Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups, by Tadgh Bentley

Bentley, Tadgh. Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups. Balzer + Bray, 2015. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233536-4. Unp. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

Bentley Little Penguin HiccupsThe end papers are funny as they have the penguin eating chili and tacos and invite the reader to keep going. The words of the story are large when they are trying to make a point about not giving chili to a penguin it will give them hiccups. He tries all of the tricks of getting rid of hiccups like standing on his head, drinking backward from a cup etc. The story gets the reader involved by asking them to scare the penguin to help him. This would be a fun book for a group read aloud but it might not be very quiet. The funny thing is he celebrates that his hiccups are gone with a nice spicy taco – and it all starts over again.

December 2015 review by Melinda Dye.

Book review: Tacky and the Haunted Igloo, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Lester, Helen. Tacky and the Haunted Igloo. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. Unp. $16.99. ISBN 9780544339941. Ages 4-1st grade. P8 Q7

Lester Tacky Haunted IglooTacky and the Haunted Igloo is the latest addition to the Tacky the Penguin series by Helen Lester and illustrator Lynn Munsinger. It’s Halloween in Nice Icy Land and Tacky still refuses to follow the crowd. Each penguin acknowledges his or her greatest fear and embodies that fear as a Halloween costume. Of course, after eating most of the treats, Tacky falls asleep; but, does he wake up in time to save his waddle from an old menace? The unusual vernacular and onomatopoeia found in the text make it fun to read aloud. Munsinger uses familiar sketchy watercolors to illustrate Tacky’s spooky spectacle. Fans of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, another unlikely champion with an affinity for treats, will enjoy this new tale of a bumbling penguin with a Halloween twist.


October 2015 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Bob and Flo, by Rebecca Ashdown

Ashdown, Rebecca. Bob and Flo. (Penguin friends at preschool! series.) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-44430-0. 20 pgs. Ages 2-4. P9/Q9

Ashdown Bob and FloThis is a little story of two penguins at preschool.  Flo’s pink lunch bucket goes missing only to turn up when Bob uses it to make a sandcastle, and finally both Flo and Bob use the bucket for water so they can “Whoosh” down slide while they are playing at preschool.  Bob reminds Flo to make sure she brings her bucket so they can have some great fun at preschool.  The pictures are very simple and cute which make this a great story for small children.

October 2015 review by Melinda Dye.

[Editor’s note: Though Bob takes Flo’s bucket without asking her, there seem to be no consequences for his actions.  How do you reconcile the “sharing” versus taking or stealing?]

Book review: Up & Down

Teckentrup, Britta. Up & Down. Templar/Candlewick. 2014. $17.99. unp. 978-0-7636-7129-7. Ages 3-5: In this charming lift-the-flap picture book, Little Penguin travels through the ocean and through sea life in cut-paper collage to reach his penguin friend. Digital art in dark colors is complemented by the calm, dark colors, and the varied sizes of flaps don’t interrupt the flow of the book whether they are lifted or not. Simple text describes Little Penguin’s movements “high into the air” and “low beneath the waves,” and opposite adjectives such as “sad” and “happy” provide teaching experiences for early readers. A sweet read-aloud book for pre-schoolers. P9Q9 October/November 2014 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Penguin in Peril

Hancock, Helen. “Penguin in Peril.” Templar Books, 2012. $15.99. ISBN 9780763671594 UNP. Ages pre-school. P8/Q8

The story is simply told with beautiful pictures of three hungry cats who hatch a plan to steal a fishy feast. The cats kidnap a penguin to help in their plan to steal some fish but he is able to escape and hide among some nuns, waiters and others before he is returned to the zoo. I think adults will enjoy this story as well as the picture references can be understood by adults. In the end the cats have to face jail as a consequence of their bad actions. October 2014 review by Melinda Dye.