Protect the Penguins: A Waddle of Books for Kids

Protect the Penguins-A Waddle of Children's Books-featured

Break out your black-and-white garb, bird buffs! It’s #WorldPenguinDay. Timed to coincide with the Adélie penguin’s annual migration northward, the initiative, which began in 1972, aims to raise awareness about our flightless friends to the south. There are 17 to 19 species of penguins worldwide, and over 50 percent of those are considered endangered or vulnerable.

In fact, according a study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund, “50% of the emperor penguins and 75% of the Adélie penguins will likely decline or disappear if global average temperatures rise above pre-industrial levels by just two degrees Celsius—a scenario that could be reached in less than 40 years.”

But what can we do to counteract this stark prediction? We recommend boning up on these majestic birds with this waddle of penguin-themed children’s books, all linked to Booklist reviews, below.

A Goofy Guide to Penguins, by Jean-Luc Coudray and illustrated by Philippe Coudray

For this amusement about emperor penguins, Philippe Coudray, known for the quirky exploits of Benjamin Bear, is joined by his brother, Jean-Luc. But be forewarned. If you think you’re getting a rundown of penguin facts, you’ll be disappointed (but not for long). Instead, these jaunty penguins bustling about the ice cap are here to deliver some laughs. A spirited approach to early abstract thought and reading comprehension.

The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins, by Sandra Markle

In this companion book to The Great Leopard Rescue (2016) and The Great Monkey Rescue (2015), Markle discusses the two-century decline of African penguins. The book’s main focus? The extraordinary response to a catastrophic oil spill off the coast of South Africa in 2000 , when an astonishing 45,000 volunteers helped rescue the penguins by cleaning oil from their feathers, from the ocean, and from the beaches where they live. A vivid introduction to African penguins, their remarkable rescue, and their still precarious existence.

Little Penguins, by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Caldecott Honor winners Rylant and Robinson collaborate in this visually stunning depiction of winter in Antarctica, but it’s really about winter fun anywhere. The simple text uses only one or two words on a page, and each double-page, full-bleed spread shows the action. Young children will have fun matching the Arctic animals on the end papers and the colored accessories of the little birds as they go about their winter fun. Pair with Ezra Jack Keats’ classic The Snowy Day.

Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure, by Alex T. Smith

Mr. Penguin, shaped rather like a bulbous beaker, has invested everything he has into becoming a professional adventurer. He’s purchased the requisite bow tie and hat, and yesterday he placed an ad for his services in the newspaper. Yet his office phone has remained disappointingly silent. Just as he begins to have second thoughts about his new endeavor, he receives an urgent phone call from museum owner Boudicca Bones requesting his help. The short chapters and riotous plot will easily win this series starter fans.


Penguin by Laura K. Murray

Penguin, by Laura K. Murray

Penguin glosses over the different species of penguins, briefly mentioning their habitats, before it moves on to discuss the biology of their form and their mating habits, differing interactions with humans, and average lifespan. The large, glossy photos are the high point of each installment, and the text is highly readable. The “Read More” section at the end of the book also provides an excellent starting point for those who need to do more heavy-duty research.





Penguin Day: A Family Story, by Nic Bishop

Biologist and nature photographer Bishop offers close-up views of penguins in a nonfiction picture book (albeit one with a light, fictional framework). The text serves to stitch together a narrative that becomes more vivid in the clearly reproduced, beautifully composed, and decidedly eye-catching color photos.  The simple layout, with black pages carrying the text in large, white type, provides an effective setting for the photos. Libraries may want multiple copies of this visually enticing book to help satisfy the seasonal demand for penguin books accessible to preschool classes.

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About the Author:

Briana Shemroske is Booklist's Marketing Associate. She graduated with a BA from Lake Forest College where she studied English Writing and Art History. In her free time she can be found eating cheeseburgers, frolicking with her schnoodle, Moritz, and feebly attempting to play board games. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Briana.

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