Review Blog

Dec 07 2016

Penguin problems by Jory John

cover image

Ill. by Lane Smith. Walker, 2016. ISBN 9780553513370
(Age: 4-8 and adults) Recommended. Always look on the bright side of life, have an attitude of gratitude, don't worry be happy,
wait, this penguin had definitely not embraced these pearls of wisdom. He addresses us in a bold and in your face manner. His life in the frozen wilderness of Antarctica is a constant cause for complaint; too early, too cold, too noisy even the sea is too salty! This grumpy bird informs us of all the inherent difficulties living in this freezing environment. Underwater there are predators like sharks and leopard seals to avoid; even finding your parents is difficult because every penguin looks the same.
Mr. Walrus stops the little penguin with a monologue filled with sage advice, reminding him about the beauty of his surroundings, the blue of the sky and the warmth of the sun. When Penguin stops to observe the snow capped mountains, he pauses and realises that 'maybe things will work out after all.'
Jory John's penguin character is relatable, as some days children can fall in to the habit of complaining and self-absorption. Lane Smith's icy blue and white landscapes and black underwater settings bring the character to life. The tempo of the story halts when the walrus appears and begins to speak. Is this full page of conversation necessary?
Penguin problems is suitable for families to share and as part of health and wellbeing class activities. Discuss positive thinking, appreciating your everyday surroundings and by showing kindness to others and accepting yourself.
Rhyllis Bignell

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