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Friday, January 20, 2012

A Penguin Obsession

Anyone who's spent a little time with me knows that I have a penguin obsession. :)  It all started when I was in high school, on a choir trip to St. Louis.  One day we went to the zoo there, and some friends and I spent a good chunk of our time watching one very silly, adorable penguin.  Before we headed back to the hotel, I stopped at a gift shop and bought myself a small penguin figurine, a souvenir of that fun day.  I've been collecting penguin-ish items ever since. 

I have over a dozen stuffed animal penguins, probably 50 or more penguin figurines (glass, plastic, ceramic, metal, you name it!), penguin shirts, penguin salt and pepper shakers, penguin flannel sheets -- even a penguin-themed bathroom!  And, of course, I have penguin books.  In case you didn't know, today is Penguin Awareness Day... so I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite penguin books with you!

Here are a few fictional picture books featuring penguins:

In With a Splash!, written by Karen Sapp and illustrated by Rachel Elliot, 2006...  Little Penguin is scared of the water.  Finally, with some help from his friend Seal Cub, he goes into the water, discovering how much fun it is to swim.

Three Cheers for Tacky, written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, 1994...  There is a whole series of Tacky books, including Tacky the Penguin (1988), Tacky in Trouble (2000), Tacky and the Emperor (2002), Tackylocks and the Three Bears (2004), Tacky and the Winter Games (2006), Tacky Goes to Camp (2009), and Tacky's Christmas (2010). 

Tacky is "an odd bird", not at all prim and proper like the other penguins.  In this particular book, Tacky and the other penguins at his school are invited to participate in a Penguin Cheering Contest.  Not surprisingly, Tacky has difficulty conforming to his classmates and performing the cheer properly.  However, he just may save the day!

And Tango Makes Three, written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and illustrated by Henry Cole, 2005... I reviewed this controversial but heart-warming book here a few months ago.

In the mood for some penguin poetry?  Try this one:

Antarctic Antics, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, 2003...  My dad bought this book for me and my kids when it first came out.  Filled with catchy poems like My Father's Feet and Regurgitate, this is a fun read-aloud book!

For those interested in learning about penguins, here are some good non-fiction options:

Penguins!, written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons, 1999...  This book offers information about the 17 different penguin species, from maps showing where they live, to nesting and breeding habits to daily life.

Face to Face With Penguins, written and photographed by Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott, 2009...  In addition to facts and photos of several different penguin species, this book also contains impressions from the authors of their personal experiences with these incredible birds.  A section at the end of the book offers ideas about how to help fight global warming and protect the penguins of our world.

March of the Penguins, (from the film by Luc Jacquet), written by Jordan Roberts and photographed by Jerome Maison, 2006...  It probably won't come as a surprise to hear that I eagerly attended a showing of the "March of the Penguins" movie when it first came out in 2005, and that I now own a copy of the movie.  The film depicts the annual journey of the Emperor penguins of Antarctica.  It's a beautiful documentary about these birds and the brutal environment they live in.

This book uses pictures and narrative from the film, leaving out the sadder parts of the story.

A Mother's Journey, written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Alan Marks, 2005... This book also describes the life of Emperor penguins, focusing on one mother's journey.

Penguins, written by Mary Hoff, with photographs by many, 2007...  This book provides photos and interesting facts about the various species of penguins.

Last, but not least, here's a fun classic for middle grade readers:

Mr. Popper's Penguins, written by Richard and Florence Atwater and illustrated by Robert Lawson, 1938...  Mr. Popper is a house painter who dreams of going to the Antarctic, and has always been intrigued by penguins.  He writes to his hero, the explorer Admiral Drake, and unexpectedly receives a real live penguin in return.  It isn't long before Mr. Popper and his family have not just one, but twelve penguins living in their home!  It all turns into quite the adventure!

I read this book aloud to my boys just last week.  (Nick had already read it, but wanted to hear it again.)  We all giggled at the penguins' antics -- and the humans', as well -- and had fun imagining what it might be like to have a penguin (or 12) in the house.

Are you a fan of penguins, too?  If so, what are some of your favorite penguin books?  I'd love to hear about them!

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