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Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Passion for Penguins

Just a few of my stuffed penguins, Jan. 2013

At last, that special day we've all been waiting for is finally here, the day we celebrate those amazing (and dapper!) flightless birds that everyone loves -- hooray for Penguin Awareness Day!

(Okay, so maybe you didn't have this day marked on your calendar.  Maybe you didn't have a penguin party planned. Maybe you've never even heard of Penguin Awareness Day. That's all right.  I've got enough penguin passion for the both of us, and I'm perfectly happy to share....)

I mentioned my penguin obsession last year and posted a few penguin-related books for you then.  Today I'm back with even more picture books, fiction and nonfiction... and all about penguins. :)

First, some fiction:

Tony Baloney,
written by Pam Munoz Ryan
and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, 2011

"Tony Baloney is a macaroni... penguin."  So begins this wacky little story about Tony, the middle child in his penguin family.  Tony's big sister bosses him around and his two baby sisters are bothersome.  Luckily, his stuffed toy Dandelion is a loyal friend he can count on.

This isn't really a penguin story -- Tony could be a tiger or a bunny or a little boy and the story would remain the same -- but the pictures of this penguin family are so cheerful and silly, they just make me grin from ear to ear.  I love the story, too.  I think it will resonate with children -- especially middle children -- everywhere.


If You Were a Penguin,
written by Florence Minor
and illustrated by Wendell Minor, 2009

What kinds of things would you do if you were a penguin? This book will tell you!  Minor offers several fun facts about penguins, using light verse.  A page at the end provides more in-depth information and also a guide to various kinds of penguins.

I love the artwork in this book and all the rhymes.  It's a great read-aloud book for little ones.


written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar, 2007

Ben opens a gift and finds a penguin inside.  He talks to it, but Penguin says nothing.  Ben tries everything -- dancing, singing, tickling, and more -- but Penguin remains silent. What will it take to get Penguin to talk?

This is a cute story with bright, expressive illustrations.  My own Ben liked this offbeat tale just as much as I did.


One Cool Friend,
written by Tony Buzzeo
and illustrated by David Small, 2012

Elliot doesn't seem too thrilled about heading to the aquarium with his father, but he politely goes along.  Once there, however, he is captivated by the Magellanic penguins -- Elliot even sneaks one home with him.  Elliot and the penguin have a grand time together.  (Elliot's father, on the other hand, doesn't even seem to notice the messes they make or the new family member.) A surprise ending will leave readers laughing... and wanting to read the story over again!

Ben and I both got a big kick out of this book.  We loved the entertaining story and the whimsical pictures.


365 Penguins,
written by Jean-Luc Fromental
and illustrated by Joelle Jolivet, 2006

I wrote about this fun "math with penguins" book in a previous post.


My Penguin Osbert,
written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
and illustrated by H. B. Lewis, 2004

File this one under "be careful what you wish for".  Joe writes a letter to Santa Claus every year, telling him what he'd like for Christmas, but there have been a few misunderstandings. For example, when Joe asked for a racecar, Santa did give him one -- but it was only 3 inches long, not one Joe could actually drive.  This year, Joe has been very specific in his letter.  He wants a real penguin from Antarctica.  

Santa grants Joe's wish, and Joe loves his new penguin Osbert... but he might be just a bit harder to care for than Joe expected.  In the end, Joe decides that maybe his friend would be happier living in the zoo's Antarctic World exhibit.

Ben and I loved the tongue-in-cheek humor of this story, and the illustrations made us giggle.


My Penguin Osbert in Love,
written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
and illustrated by H. B. "Buck" Lewis, 2009

In this sequel to the book above, Osbert and several of his friends from the zoo come to visit Joe at his house.  They show Joe an invitation they've received to a South Pole Extravaganza, hoping he can help them get there.  Luckily, Joe has a helicopter (from Santa, of course).  He flies the birds to the South Pole, which takes a little longer than he'd expected.  After they finally arrive, Osbert meets a female penguin and falls in love.  Joe needs to get back home, but what will he do about Osbert?

While I liked the first Osbert book better, this one is also a funny, charming story.


For those who enjoy nonfiction, I recommend the following books:

The Emperor Lays an Egg,
written by Brenda Z. Guiberson
and illustrated by Joan Paley, 2001

Following a family of emperor penguins through an entire year, this book offers quite a bit of information about these birds' life cycle in just a few pages.  

Guiberson writes in a way that will hold a young reader's interest, and her text is complemented by Paley's beautiful collage artwork.


Penguin Chick,
written by Betty Tatham
and illustrated by Helen K. Davie, 2002

This book also describes the amazing life cycle of the emperor penguin.  (At the end, it provides a few facts about other penguins, as well.)

Tatham shares many interesting emperor penguin facts, and Davie's realistic illustrations show off the beauty of these creatures.


Born to be Wild:
Little Penguins,
written by Anne Jonas,
with photographs by many, 2006

This book, geared more for middle grade readers, supplies many basic facts about penguins (mostly emperor penguins, once again).  It poses several questions for the reader to think about, with the answers given on the following page.

My favorite part of this book is all the photographs of the adorable chicks and their majestic parents.


Are you passionate about penguins, too?  I'd love to hear what you think of the books in this post, and I'm always looking for new penguin books to read.  What are some of your favorites?

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