Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Penguin Story

I thought I'd get started a little early on one of my New Year's resolutions, which is to review more picture books. I love picture books! I love the way they make children eager to read, to experience stories, to see the world through someone else's eyes. I have so much fun sharing them with my own children - who, even as they grow older, are still happy to come sit with me and read lovely books like this one. I also enjoy sharing them with the toddlers and preschoolers who come to my storytimes at the library where I work. As soon as I read this one, I knew I'd be using it in my next storytime. I'd also like to share the wonderful picture books I come across here on my blog, as well.

The story opens with Edna the penguin looking at the world around her and noting that the colors are always the same. White, like yesterday, she thinks during the day. Black, like tomorrow, she thinks at night. And, when she looks at the ocean: Blue, blue, blue. Forever. She understands that the white ice is for sliding, and the black night is for seeing stars. And the blue sea is for hunting fish, of course. But, she thinks, "There must be something else."

None of the other penguins seems to share her curiosity - but they don't condemn it, either. When Edna sets off to look for that something else, her large penguin friend even "packs her a lunch" (i.e. hands her a big fish) to take with her. Edna looks and looks, and her determination pays off. She does find something else, and she runs back home so she can share it with all her penguin buddies.

I loved this book, from the adorable penguin illustrations that, despite their simplicity, manage to convey quite a lot about these little creatures. Edna is bright and inquisitive, and she is not shunned by the others for being different - and I liked that about the book, too. The above illustration is not as bright as in the actual book - imagine the rust as a bright orange, and you'll get a better idea of how it looks. The book an excellent choice for preschool and elementary readers - the little ones will enjoy the colors and the penguins, and the older ones will appreciate the reward that can come when a burning desire to know something is acted upon - and when new knowledge is shared with friends.

Antionette Portis is the author of two other picture books I adore, Not a Box and Not a Stick, which I highly recommend along with this one.

A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis (HarperCollins Publishers, 2009)

Also reviewed at:
Fuse #8: "...Antoinette Portis, a woman who has figured out how to do something extraordinarily difficult: combine good design with pitch-perfect storytelling."
Maw Books Blog: " It’s so fun. Great story, great design, great color. It was so much fun to read."


  1. Nice illustrations! That's a beautiful blue

  2. That is so funny, I hated picture books, I thought they were a lazy-mans version of a book, for the slow kids (God I'm such a reading elitist, ha ha).

  3. Ladytink - I just love all those little penguins! :)

    VA Gal - Oh, that's sad! I don't think I even want to know what you thought about graphic novels! You would not believe how excited I am to read the new picture books when they come into my library. In many ways I have never actually grown up, I guess.

  4. Very cute! Happy new year to you.

  5. Thanks, Beth! Happy New Year to you, too!

  6. ahhh I want this! it looks adorable, and I loved the "It's not a box" one!
    it actually smelled like cardboard:P

  7. Valentina - That is one thing I miss from working in a bookstore - the new book smell! At the library I'm not so into checking into how the books smell, lol. If you liked the Box one, you'll love this!


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