Errol! by Zanni Louise

cover image

Ill. by Philip Bunting. Scholastic, 2018. ISBN 9781742766300
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Themes: Humour. Penguins. Mothers. Read aloud. A little penguin with an independent mind does not budge when his mother instructs him to come. He stays where he is when she calls his name again, and remains quietly still when she gives him a warning, counting one, two, three. Exasperated she takes her shopping trolley and leaves.
This most recognisable of incidents will tickle the hearts of all readers as they identify the similarity between themselves and the penguin.
All children will have heard the mum calling out their name, getting louder each time it is ignored, and the counting to three pervades every household as a child is asked to do something they do not want to do.
In this book, the penguin disappears under the falling snow, only his beanie left on the surface. Mum, of course, returns only this time her calling Errol, sounds different as concern and worry creep in as she is unable to find her son. Her sorrow will melt the hearts of the readers as she lies on the ice and snow, clutching her son's beanie.
But we see what has happened to him, and when he comes back to the surface, he instructs his mother in the same way that she has instructed him, but she does not need telling as he did, and before he gets to the number three, she sweeps him into her arms.
This is a loving story of the relationship between a child and its mother. She is trying vainly to get him to follow her instructions, but he remains defiant, and in so doing sees the impact of his defiance on the mother who loves him.
This will be a great read aloud, as each time the word 'Errol' appears, a different stress can be put upon the word, reflecting the anguish of the mother. Bunting has made wonderful use of a plain background, with only a few main colours making up the images of mum and the baby penguin. They stand out, drawing the eye to look at the passage of time through the passing clouds.
Fran Knight