Potty About Penguin Picture Books

Yeh it’s Penguin Awareness Day! I confess, I am penguin potty and just adore these comical, clumsy little creatures but how have these photogenic stars managed to bag their own National Day of celebration? Is it their cute waddle? The way they flap their flippers like an excited child? Perhaps we admire their brave, reckless abandonment as they throw themselves off cliffs into the thrashing sea? Do we empathise with their affection for one another? Or are we in awe of their endurance of cold, harsh conditions? There’s no doubt they are fascinating creatures which have captured the hearts of millions of us but beware Protect a Penguin Day could become the harsh reality if we don’t do our bit for global warming – Emperer Penguins are now endangered, warn biologists, The Telegraph.

It’s hard to take penguins for granted in our house, whether it’s on a scarf, disguised as a biscuit tin or peeping out of a picture, there’s usually at least one in view in some form or another! So as I haven’t been able to resist passing on the love to my children and we’ve been enjoying some fantastic picture books about them lately. Each book has been rated out of ten by my nine and six year old boys but it seems they’re all very popular in our household judging by the lack of deviation from a resounding ten all round!



The Night Iceberg – Helen Stephens (author/illustrator); Published: Alison Green Books 2010. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Tofta wanted her iceberg to be a place she could call her own … until a penguin appears followed by his entire family & friends so she soon finds out that sharing with others can also bring a lot of pleasure. A story to be read again and again with illustrations to be admired.

CLICK TO BUY The Night Iceberg


Penguin – Polly Dunbar (author/illustrator); Published: Walker Books 2007. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

A beautiful book which uses simple but striking illustrations and hints of humour to convey the importance of actions speaking louder than words. It’s not what Penguin says (which is not a lot), it is what he does that says everything!

CLICK TO BUY Penguin


Up and Down – Oliver Jeffers (author/illustrator); Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

From the well known author of Lost and Found, yet another beautiful story of the friendship between the boy and his penguin. Penguin is determined to fly high but how will he do this? Will he fail? Will the boy be there for him if he falls? The classic conundrum of how to allow a loved one to find the confidence to fly the nest whilst trying to keep them safe is written with true Oliver Jeffers’ eloquence.

CLICK TO BUY Up and Down


Blown Away – Rob Biddulph (author/illustrator); Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

An effortless rhyming story about Penguin Blue and his adventures with a kite. With gorgeous vivid, contemporary illustrations that invite you to study each page, it’s easy to get pulled along with Penguin Blue on his journey.

CLICK TO BUY Blown Away


Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? – Camilla Bedoyere (author) & Aleksei Bitskoff (illustrator); Published: QED Publishing 2015. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

A very fresh approach for a factual book about penguins as the facts have been cleverly weaved into a fun story. Could a penguin go bowling, ride a bike or join a choir? You can find out from this book how a penguin might fair in these and many other situations he could find himself in if he came to stay with you.

CLICK TO BUY Could A Penguin Ride a Bike?


Penguin in Peril – Helen Hancocks (author/illustrator); Published: Templar Publishing 2013. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Three hungry cats on the hunt for a penguin to catch them some fish. But the penguin doesn’t want to catch fish, he just wants to get home. The full colour illustrations bring his story to life as the cats chase the penguin around town.

CLICK TO BUY Penguin in Peril


The Not-so-Perfect Penguin – Steve Smallman (author/illustrator); Published: QED Publishing 2014. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Often the things we love about others are their imperfections. Percy is no exception. Percy is always acting the clown while his sensible friends are being very sensible and always raising their eyebrows at him. However when Percy goes missing one day they soon realise that it is his playful ways that they love. A sweet story about true friendship and accepting others.

CLICK TO BUY Storytime: The Not-So-Perfect Penguin


Cuddly Dudley – Jez Alborough (author/illustrator); Published Walker Children’s Books 2007. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

You can never get enough hugs! Everyone wants to cuddly Dudley but Dudley gets a little tired of the constant attention and just wants to be alone until he realises that sometimes a cuddle is all he needs.

CLICK TO BUY Cuddly Dudley


Dragon Loves Penguin – Debi Giliori (author/illustrator); Published: Bloomsbury Childrens 2014. Rating: 10/10 – 10/10

Knowing that things happen for a reason. What happens when a lonely egg and a egg-less dragon meet? A heart-warming tale of an unexpected friendship. You can feel, see and read the quality of this book.

CLICK TO BUY Dragon Loves Penguin

As an extra penguin treat I’ll leave you with this wonderful blog from Making Them Readers reviewing the book 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet.

Source: Own or public library.

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Children’s Picture Books about Books

Picture books about books, reading and creating stories are the perfect choice if you want to encourage your child to read during the new term. I really enjoyed putting this list together as each book demonstrates such an individual approach to the same topic from both new and established children’s authors. As before, I’ve written a short review and my two boys have rated them out of 10, the first score being from my youngest, age five.


This Book Just Ate my Dog – Richard Byrne (author & illustrator). Publisher: OUP Oxford (1 Jan 2015). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is a fun, quick read. Beautifully sketched illustrations coupled with a basic story but guaranteed to get some chuckles from the younger ones enjoying the unexpected interactive element to the story.

CLICK TO BUY This Book Just Ate My Dog! (Ben & Bella)


Wanted Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar – Emily Mackenzie (author & illustrator). Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (18 Dec 2014). RATING: 10/9; 10/10.

I adore this book in every way. The vocabulary and language used is just the right mix of simplistic and clever. The character is cute and the bright and bold illustrations compliment the humorous story. This is exactly the kind of book I aspire to write! I can’t get enough of Ralfy and neither can my boys. It’s a firm bedtime favourite. A “must have” for any little person’s book shelf.

CLICK TO BUY Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar


Recipe for a Story – Ella Burfoot (author & illustrator). Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (1 Jan 2015). RATING: 1/10; 7/10.

I thought this book was both original and informative. The rhyme makes it a pleasure to read and its light-hearted approach to the elements of story-making is a fun way to introduce story writing to children. However, for my youngest the idea was not believable. Being quite matter of fact, he was adamant that it was a strange story as “you can’t cook a book.” He had a point and it highlighted that the age group that this book was written for might not be able to understand or appreciate the full meaning inferred by the clever play on words and take the story more literally than intended.

CLICK TO BUY Recipe For a Story


The Incredible Book Eating Boy – Oliver Jeffers (author & illustrator). Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books (25 Jun 2009). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is an entertaining story full of amusing and quirky illustrations. It must be on the road to becoming a classic by now. We have read this book so many times and yet it still remains a page turner for us all.

Note to reader: Although you can’t cook a book apparently it’s quite possible to eat hundreds of them!

CLICK TO BUY The Incredible Book Eating Boy


Bears Don’t Read – Emma Chichester Clark (author & illustrator). Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books (26 Feb 2015). RATING: 7/10; 8/10.

George is a bear who is not satisfied with doing the usual bear things, he wants more. He wants to be able to read and it takes a little girl called Clementine to give him a chance and fulfill his dream. This is a charming story with amusing illustrations which can inspire children to be brave, determined and go beyond what they know.

CLICK TO BUY Bears Don’t Read!


Books Always Everywhere – Jane Blatt (author) & Sarah Massini (illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (31 Mar 2013). RATING: 4/10; 2/10.

A very simple rhyming text coupled with large bold illustrations of different types of books, where you find books and what you can do with books means this book will appeal to pre-school children.

CLICK TO BUY Books Always Everywhere


It’s a Book – Lane Smith (author & illustrator). Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (1 Mar 2012). RATING: 10/10; 10/10.

This is a book of few words, yet it says so much. It’s a humorous comparison between a traditional book and our expectations of modern technology. It’s brilliant and my boys find it hilarious. We usually take turns in reading the different character parts. However, although the tongue in cheek use of the word Jackass (opposed to donkey) is apt for this story as it’s not a word we commonly use for a male donkey in the UK (except for negative connotations perhaps) I’m not convinced it works as well in a book for young children in the UK as it might in the US and it leaves me cringing ever so slightly every time the boys read the word.

CLICK TO BUY It’s a Book


The Story Machine – Tom McLaughlin (author & illustrator). Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s (15 Jan 2015). RATING: 10/10; 9/10.

The author’s creative imagination and artistic skill shines through in this book. It beautifully demonstrates that the art of telling stories doesn’t require high tech gadgets to bring them alive. It’s about creating something new with words and pictures in your mind.

CLICK TO BUY The Story Machine


Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite – Nick Bromley (author) Nicola O’Byrne (illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (6 Mar 2014). RATING: 6/10; 4/10.

It’s all about the book! Caught up in the wrong book is a crocodile, who likes to eat words, gobble up letters and swallow sentences. He gets scribbled on and shaken until he eats his way out the book. A book that aims to engage the reader to comment.

CLICK TO BUY Open Very Carefully


Use Your Imagination – Nicola O’Byrne (author & illustrator). Publisher: Nosy Crow (4 Mar 2015). RATING: 8/10; 9/10.

Wolf teaches rabbit how to create his own story using well known, traditional wolf tales as the basis for this amusing modern twist. A witty, colourful and vibrant read.

CLICK TO BUY Use Your Imagination

What theme would you like to see in my quick look book reviews?

Source: Public or private library.

 

NOTE: Books for Children Blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.