Review: A Penguin Story

There are two times that I remember crying in elementary school. One time was in kindergarten. After watching a half an hour documentary on the migration of humpback whales, they warned us that if we didn’t take care of the Ocean whales might become extinct. Our own children would never be able to see humpbacks.

Overcome with grief for the ignorance of my children and tormented that they’d have to live in a world without whales I excused myself to the bathroom. In true ‘Lifetime movie’ fashion I slinked down the wall. I remained there on the floor sobbing uncontrollably until my savior Mrs. Benton came to find me. I often think of her during the holidays. Next to my family, she was the first adult I’d come across who didn’t talk down to children. She never insulted our intelligence. At five I truly appreciated her candor.

In the first grade we had to choose three crayons.These would be the only colors we would use for an entire quarter. THIS was too much. I did not want to live in a world with only three colors. It was another moment of heart-deadening pain. The tears flowed freely. I made sure to pick the color blue, so I could draw my tears.

The perfect meet in the middle for these two childhood experiences is Antoinette Portis‘ beautiful book “A Penguin Story”

I asked for this book last Christmas after spotting it at the Original Art. Rereading it last night reminded me of being very small and wanting more in life than just three colors. My love of the ocean is one of my strongest ties to my character, so I think it’s totally rad that Portis intertwines the vastness of the sea into the pages of this story.

One of the things I like best about the books that she writes and draws is that she speaks to children, exactly as they would want to be spoken to. She leaves space for a conversation between adult and child, and doesn’t give you all the answers.

This is one of the newer books in my collection. It is one of the first books I’ve come across in ages that deserves to be a classic. It is beautifully designed and artistically realized in a way that is pleasing to both children and their reading slaves. Portis‘ bold use of line is charming. She creates characters that are simple but pensive. This book thrives on minimalism, but still manages to create truly expressive moments. I am so happy to find a new book where each spread could be just as easily be framed and put on a wall as bound in a book.

Edna the penguin, and star of this post’s focus is an artist at heart. This book is a great starter for conversations focused on gratitude, appreciation, imagination, faith and diversity. What more could you want to teach your kids?

This is a good one, friends. Really good. Three cheers for Edna.

Categories: Kid Lit, Other's Genius, Review

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