Today is Penguin Awareness Day, in case you were unaware. I’m always happy to find obscure celebrations that actually lead to good storytime themes, and I was especially happy about this one, because there are LOTS of picture books about penguins.
Here’s what we read:
Penguins, Penguins Everywhere by Bob Barner
This is a cute and colorful, simple introduction to penguins. It includes basic facts, like penguins live in hot places as well as cold ones, the penguin dads carry their eggs on their feet, etc. It has a nice display of different types of penguins at the end. It was an ideal length for a nonfiction opener to the storytime, and the kids seemed to enjoy it. It was snatched up at the end.
One Cool Friend by Tony Buzzeo; illustrated by David Small
I’ve been getting a lot more school-aged kids at Family Storytime, and this was a fun, lengthier story for them. When Elliot, a very proper boy, visits the aquarium with his father, he takes home a penguin in his backpack and names it Magellan. To make Magellan feel at home, he builds an ice skating rink in his bedroom, lets him sleep in the freezer, takes him to the library to do research, and draws him a bath to swim in. The kids loved the funny twist at the end when Elliot’s father asks him where the penguin came from, and reveals a surprise of his own. There was a very brief, quiet skirmish after I read it between two kids who both wanted to check it out.
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester; illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Tacky is a very odd bird. Unlike all of the other penguins, who march neatly, dive gracefully, and sing beautifully, Tacky has his own unique, boisterous way of doing things. But when a band of hunters comes looking for penguins, Tacky’s odd ways save the day. This one got big laughs from the kids, especially in the parts where Tacky marches, and his counting is all out of order.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
When a boy finds a sad-looking penguin at his door, he decides that it is lost and sets out in a row boat to return it to the North Pole. But, once he does, he realizes that the penguin was not lost after all, but merely lonely. A simple, sweet fantasy that worked well with the group, especially because they could relate to the huge waves portrayed in several of the illustrations (we’ve had enormous waves here on the California coast this past week, and the kids were all buzzing about it).
I didn’t know of any good kids songs about penguins, so I wrote this one. I played it on the dulcimer, a Christmas present from my in-laws that I am enjoying. Click on the triangle for the tune:
I Am A Penguin
I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
Not like the petrols
And gulls in the sky.
But put me in the water
And then you will see.
There’s no bird in the ocean,
Who flies as fast as me.
On land I may waddle,
And look quite absurd.
A flightless and clumsy,
My home is the ice
Where we huddle for heat.
I carry my egg
On the top of my feet.
I am a penguin,
My wings cannot fly.
But my home is the ice,
And the sea is my sky.
CRAFT: Fingerprint Penguins
There are lots of versions of this craft online, but I wanted to keep mine simple, and just use markers and ink pads. I also put out Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book, so the kids could explore other things to make with fingerprints. They had a great time, and all of their drawings came out completely different.
OTHER BOOKS ABOUT PENGUINS:
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole
This book is controversial because of its portrayal of two male penguins who raise a chick together (based on real penguins at the Central Park Zoo). But it’s a wonderful book with adorable illustrations, and while it does do an excellent job of portraying a nontraditional family in a very natural way, most kids will enjoy it simply as a sweet animal story, made even more compelling because it is true.
Turtle’s Penguin Day by Valeri Gorbachev
After Turtle hears a bedtime story about penguins, he decides to dress himself up as a penguin for school the next day. His teacher embraces the idea, allowing his whole class to spend the day doing penguin activities: passing a ball with their feet, sliding on their bellies, etc. This book does a nice job of seamlessly blending facts into a fictional story.
A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis
Edna the penguin knows there must be something else besides the white of the snow, the black of the night, and the blue of the sea. She sets out to find it, finally discovering the brilliant orange of a research base. I didn’t get to share this one at storytime, but I wish I had, because I think the kids would have been intrigued by the idea of never having seen more than three colors.
What are your favorite books about penguins?