Review Blog

Oct 13 2016

Gwendolyn! by Juliette MacIver

cover image

Ill. by Terri Rose Baynton. ABC Books, 2016. ISBN 9780733335174
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Penguins. Habitat. Environment. Home.
Gwendolyn the penguin loves living in the jungle. She greets Jaguar in the morning, and he can only complain about the heat. She meets the monkeys but they can only complain about their bruised bananas. She meets parrot who complains about not finding a wife, despite his beautiful plumage. In responding to each animal's complaint, penguin tells us of the contrast they would find in the Antarctic, so acquainting the reader with facts about that place. But so much so that Gwendolyn wants to go there.
And if it is odd to find a penguin in the jungle, then this strangely informative book shows where she should live, and what her habitat should be, while contrasting it with where she is now residing. For children reading the book for all its fun and laughter they will assimilate lots of facts about a penguin's habitat and be able to tell others about life in the Antarctic.
Gwendolyn the penguin is irrepressible, with her responses to the animals' complaints and her travel to the Antarctic. For all her sadness at being separated from her species she finds that she misses the jungle and so returns.
A luxurious jungle greets the reader on most pages. The pencil and water colour illustrations are dynamic, making it easy for younger readers to pick out the features of either the jungle or the Antarctic. They will love recognising the many animals that live in each place and follow Gwendolyn's exploits with lots of laughter.
But most of all they will love discussing who lives where and why an environment is more suited to one or the other animal, and whether this should restrict where Gwendolyn lives. This a delightfully thought provoking book about the old adage, 'home is where the heart is'. And readers will love calling out her name as it is prompted in the text.
Fran Knight

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