Saturday, October 9, 2010


Candlewick Press

From the wide-eyed wistful stare of the big guy on the cover all the way to the flick of a blue tail on the last page, Penguin has always been my very favorite Polly Dunbar book. I love Penguin.  I adore Ben's apple green pajamas imprinted with white stars, the pants sloping downward a bit and the top rising up, giving us a quick glimpse of toddler belly.  I love the expressive faces, the spare white backgrounds, and most of all, the way a simple story becomes much more. I'm so thrilled to find it has been released in paperback - only $6.99 and you can be loving it too!
Ben tears open his beautifully wrapped birthday present to find a most interesting looking penguin nestled inside. Delighted, he believes they will become the best of friends. To his dismay, Ben quickly discovers that Penguin seems to be the strong, silent type. He refuses to speak!  Ben tries charming him to speech with  tickling, funny face making and dizzy dancing.  Not a peep.

No more Mister Nice Guy, Ben ridicules, mocks, and imitates Penguin. Still nothing. They stand off, studiously ignoring each other. Ben sends Penguin to a rocket and fired him in outer space.  Upon his return, he then offers him to a passing lion. Ben flies into a rage, cheeks darkening, tears flowing, he yells and shrieks. The lion comes over and gobbles him down for being too loud.  Penguin looks shocked, then runs over and bites the lion square on the nose.  Out pops Ben and a torrent of words spring past Penguin's beak. He speaks! He loves Ben.      

How the idea for the book came about (from Polly's website): Polly wrote Penguin for her brother Ben.  It was he who gave her the original penguin, who was made from black velvet in Paris in 1930. His real name is Pingouin. Ben said "You can keep Pingouin but watch out, he bites!"  I love that her story has a family history, and she used her brother as one of the main characters. 

This is a wonderful interview with Polly Dunbar back in 2008 from the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog.  Well worth reading!

Review copy provided by Candlewick Press. 

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