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A Penguin Story
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Antoinette Portis makes such an important point with such a simple story and such equally simple illustrations. "White...like yesterday," the little penguin says, looking at the world around her. And, "black. Like tomorrow." Then, "blue, blue, blue. Forever." In those short little lines on the 3 opening pages, the stage is set. The colors of Edna's world are basic and unchanging.
But then her search begins. Bold black lines create strong images against the otherwise snowy world and move the story along without extra explanation about whys and wherefores. And the couple of tiny colorful details added here and there speak louder than words. For example, the tiny orange plane that flies into the corner of one page shows just how startling any unusual color would be in such a snowy world. And, when Edna doesn't see it, the reader almost wants to yell at her: "Turn around, turn around! You're missing it!" But then, of course, she goes over the hill and, well, makes her own discovery.
The artwork in this book almost magically make the reader feel the quiet desperation of the little penguin's need for something beyond white, black and blue of the Artic world. The penguin herself is a simple little creature, almost lost against the big icy background. The snow and ice are white, the sky and see are a grey blue, and the night is very black. The dot of very orange orange that appears in the otherwise uncluttered, monochromatic snowy scene is almost jarring, and really tells Edna's story all on its own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about colors, especially what it would be like to live in a world that was only white, blue, or black. Where do penguins live, and why were those the only colors that Edna saw? Can you imagine how she felt when she saw orange for the first time? Did you spot any orange before Edna saw it? What other colors do you see in her world? What do you think is going to happen next?