Penguin Problems – Walker Books

8th February 2018

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Review written by: Emma Davis

Written by: Jory John

Illustrated by: Lane Smith

Little Penguin is not having a good day.  Nothing seems to be going his way – it’s too cold, too snowy, too noisy and…he’s hungry.  What a lot of problems for a little penguin to deal with!

With a noticeably grumpy expression on his face, Little Penguin ponders on his life but the more he ponders, the worse he feels.  His hunger leads him to explore the ocean, meeting natural predators during the process.  Unfortunately, his hunting efforts are unsuccessful, due in part to his aching flippers!  Just to top things off for poor Little Penguin, he can’t even recognise his own Mum and Dad.  All the penguins look exactly the same!  This part of the book is my favourite and really made me giggle as I’m sure it will for other adults sharing this story with children.  Who he thinks is his Mum exclaims ‘I literally have no idea who you are.’

All is not lost as a passing walrus offers Little Penguin some wise words.  In this full page spread, the walrus acknowledges that life may be challenging at times but encourages the penguin to look around him – ‘have you noticed the way the mountains are reflected in the ocean like a painting?’  Will this cheer penguin up?

The beautiful polar landscapes in Penguin Problems are expertly captured by Lane Smith.  Mottled artwork throughout with a simple palette of mostly white, black and orange help project the stark landscape.  What’s really incredible is how Smith manages to convey so much emotion through Little Penguin – despair, disappointment, thoughtfulness and general grumpiness are some of the emotions felt by the penguin and which children will pick up on.  There’s really no doubt as to how penguin is feeling!

Little Penguin is a charming tale, encouraging us to step back when feeling troubled and look at the world around us.  Although he is grumpy, Little Penguin really is a heart-warming character who manages to give us a giggle with his niggles at life.  This is fantastic for reading aloud – I can imagine children and adults falling in love with Little Penguin.  Definitely a book to read again and again!

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