Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Adélie Penguins look like they're wearing tuxedo tails!
How much do you know about penguins? (I just found out there are 17 species!) "Penguin Appreciation/Awareness Day" is coming up on January 20th.  Below are some books your family might enjoy reading about penguins - I also included some research I did in order to help you better appreciate these flightless birds.


MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Robert Lawson.
I did not see the recent movie, but as usual, I'd imagine the book is better than the Hollywood version! Mr. Popper is a house painter in the 1930s in Stillwater, USA.  He only works from the spring through fall seasons.  During the winter, he reads National Geographic and listens to radio shows about world explorers, such as Admiral Drake and his Antarctic Adventures.  The Admiral surprisingly responds to a fan letter from Mr. Popper by sending him a live penguin (who they name "Captain Cook"). The adventures start with one, but soon the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins - all of whom must be fed!  So Mr. Popper, his wife, and their two kids take the penguins on the road.  They're billed as "Popper's Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole". The act eventually gets old and they have a run-in with the law - only to be bailed out by the Admiral.  Mr. Popper is then faced with a moral dilemma about the penguins' future. The adventures while on tour are hilarious, as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. This classic read-aloud is perfect as a bedtime "chapter-a-night" book for ages 7 and up.

by Jean-Luc Fromental. In this oversize picture book from France, family members deal with penguins that arrive at their home--one a day, for a whole year!  The mayhem begins on New Year's Day. As the penguin population increases, Dad, Mom, and the kids use multiplication and a few other schemes to organize, feed, and care for the increasing number of birds, but the scheme they come up with is only temporarily helpful. Finally, at the end of the year, Uncle Victor (an ecologist) arrives, and explains why he has sent the birds. He takes all but one of them, "Chilly", away. The premise is goofy, but the math is fun, in this big book. Joelle Jolivet's bold illustrations, in orange, blue, and black, give a retro, almost surreal look to the artwork, which adds to the story. (ages 5-8)

 by Oliver Jeffers. Is this little penguin lost (or just lonely)? After a penguin shows up at his door, a little boy determines to help it get back home. The journey to the South Pole in the boy's rowboat is long and difficult, so to pass the time the boy tells the penguin lots of stories along the way.  Finally they arrive, but instead of being happy, they are sad. Find out what happens next, in this sweet read aloud.

LITTLE PIP...you'll love these cute picture books (for ages 4-8), illustrated by Jane Chapman, and written by talented author Karma Wilson, about a little Adélie Penguin named "Pip". These reassuring stories about Pip and her family were introduced to me by my sweet pre-school aged god-daughter, Emma:
Where Is Home, Little Pip?
Don't Be Afraid, Little Pip
What's in the Egg, Little Pip?

Hopefully, many of you have seen MARCH OF THE PENGUINS - an incredibly enjoyable and beautifully filmed 2005 documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman (if you haven't, try to see it soon!)  It's about a colony of hundreds of Emperor Penguins as they return, in a single-file march of 70 miles or more, to their frozen breeding ground, far inland from the cold oceans where they thrive. Most of the other creatures leave, and the Emperor Penguins, are the only animals to spend the long winters on Antarctica's open ice (unlike the Adélie Penguins, who spend their winters in the cold seas surrounding the offshore Arctic ice pack).  Click here to read more (and watch video) about both of these types of penguins on the National Geographic KIDS website.  

Family Fun Magazine Online is a great resource for party and craft ideas.  Want to have a penguin party?  Click here to see lots of fun penguin craft ideas and recipes from FAMILY FUN.

These social animals are not only superb swimmers, but world-class divers - and fun to watch!
The website Nothing But Penguins has information about penguin exhibits and websites from arount the world.  You'll find additional exhibit sites here.  

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