Posted in Picture Books

“Penguin Problems”

Penguin Problems
Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 978-0375974656

In this story, we learn that penguins just have so many problems. We follow an unnamed penguin as he goes through his day, complaining about everything from being cold, hunted, to looking stupid when he waddles. A surprise speech from a walrus encourages him to look on the brighter side of things…but whether or not he’ll take those words to heart remains to be seen.

I love this book, if only because there is one right way to read it–as exaggerated whiny as possible. This penguin is in a permanent state of ‘ugh’ and if you’re reading the story aloud, you’ll have the best results with making that as prominent as possible. I’m not very good at voices, but the sarcastic tone of speech in this book is right up my alley.

The illustrations are simple but adorable. I love the design Lane Smith used for the penguins. There’s not a lot by way of background or color, but it all works wonderfully. Smith’s speckled painted style is unique and effective. The story is a bit dependent on its pictures, but not completely. A strong storyteller could likely make this entertaining for visually challenged readers.

This book can be a big hit in storytimes–but be warned, it is just as easy for it to flop. This is truly a performance piece–if you don’t dial it up to 11, listeners are going to lose interest. Because there’s not much by way of actual story, you have to engain listeners with your reading. It also works well as a one-on-one read–especially in a household that is no stranger to snark.

This may be a book that adults find more humor in that kids–but it’s worth the read either way.

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A humble librarian spreading knowledge across the interwebs.

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