Tag Archives: penguin

Celebrating a Storybook Year – October

October was about harvest time, woodland animals, and falling leaves at a Storybook Year. We had a plethora of pumpkins with “Strega Nona’s Harvest”, “County Fair”, “Pumpkin Moonshine”, and “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” – which was a particularly entertaining read aloud with plenty of repetition, onomatopoeia, and chutzpah. We also traveled the countryside planting trees with Johnny Appleseed, in two different and equally entertaining versions of his story.

We visited “A House in the Woods” and waited anxiously with “Owl Babies” for their mother’s return, saw the nighttime forest come alive as we flew through “Little Owl’s Night”, and read about friendship and patience in another touching collaboration from Phillip and Erin Stead, “Bear Has a Story to Tell”.  There were plenty of moose to go around this month, and there was a particularly popular (in our house) little toad whose ingenuity and perseverance saved her mother and brothers from an uncertain fate in “Teeny Tiny Toadie”.

We were reminded of the timeless appeal of classics like “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, Margaret and H.A. Rey’s “Pretzel”, and Don Freeman’s “Earl the Squirrel”, and in “Penguin Problems” we were (humorously) introduced to the idea that penguins are individuals and it may be that not all of them are necessarily jazzed about their lot in life.

By the end of the month we could tell that fall was here in earnest, and the holiday season was upon us…onward to November!

 


Day 116 – If You Were a Penguin

Although we hardly need an excuse to fit in a book about penguins, April 25th was World Penguin Day…so, what did we do? Read a book about penguins, of course! “If You Were a Penguin” by Wendell and Florence Minor, our choice to help celebrate a day which I believe ought to be a national holiday, is a simple but adorable poem spread over 32 colorfully illustrated pages.penguin

“If You Were a Penguin” is entertainment that also manages to inform – introducing the listener to several different breeds of penguin, some typical penguin behaviors, and the different habitats where penguins may be found. The rhyming prose makes this book a delight to read aloud – and the simplicity of the prose makes it a fairly quick read as well…something that’s nice to have available from time to time. Plus: penguins!

In conclusion, I respectfully submit that the more books about penguins you can add to your read-aloud calendar, the better (100% of fathers writing reviews on this blog agree with me). “If You Were a Penguin” is a great place to start.


Day 90 – A Sick Day for Angus McGee

“A Sick Day for Angus McGee” by the husband-and-wife team of Phillip C. Stead (author) and Erin E. Stead (illustrator) is a true treasure. The story is sweet, funny and comforting, and the charming pencil and woodblock illustrations, which won the Caldecott Medal for 2011, make me grin every time I look at them.

AmosAmos McGee is a sweet old man living in a tiny wood-panel house nestled in between taller downtown apartment buildings. Every morning he wakes early, packs a lunch, and rides the bus to work at the zoo, where he spends the day with his animal friends. He plays chess with the elephant (who thinks carefully about each move), races the tortoise (who always wins), sits quietly with the penguin (who is very shy), lends a handkerchief to the rhino (who always has a runny nose), and at sunset he reads to the owl (who is afraid of the dark). One day, however, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and can’t go to work. His animal friends miss him and make the trip to his house by bus to spend the day catering to Amos’ needs as he always caters to theirs.

I just adore this book. The idea of spending your days in such a simple but fulfilling way is so compelling – it’s a little escape just to read the story. I also love the way in which Amos is so considerate of each friend’s unique needs, and how his thoughtfulness and selflessness are repaid in kind. Then there are the illustrations, which augment the humor and heart of the story with their little details. Amos himself has such a friendly face, and his clothes and accommodations lend to the comforting old-fashioned feel of the book. The expressions and posture of the animals give insight to their personalities: the look of satisfaction on the face of the tortoise as he wins his race with Amos for the nth time, the crossed feet and sideways glance of the shy penguin, or the elephant’s contemplative pose as he carefully arranges chess pieces in a row while waiting on his friend. In fact, my favorite part of the book was actually wordless, as we saw the animals walking to the bus, waiting on the bus, and riding the bus to Amos’ apartment…I could almost hear the “intermission” muzak playing in my head as I flipped from one page to the next, waiting along with the animals for their story to “start up” again when they reach Amos.

I think we will need to track down some more of Ms. Stead’s books. We thoroughly enjoyed her work on “and then it’s spring” as well. Our oldest actually liked the illustrations in that book even better than those in Amos McGee, but I think that’s splitting hairs. Oh, and one more thing: we couldn’t help but appreciate the fact that Amos’ friends come in a group of five (a key foundational math concept for little ones), and that the grouping is underscored by the number “5” on the side of the bus as the friends all ride to see Amos. We have confessed to our dorkiness previously – as you will see here.