A Penguin Story

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
A Penguin Story Book Poster Image
Penguin's quest for color inspires and entertains.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Searching for something more, and unusual, such as color in a snowy world takes imagination and a little daring.  But it pays off in the end.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a simple book about color, imagination, and adventure. It's aimed toward younger readers and contains nothing inappropriate.

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written byspoony March 20, 2009

Thank you Big gay Al

I hope you get out of that hole soon :). I thought it was a good read!
so... how you doin???

What's the story?

A small penguin named Edna imagines a world that is more than simply white, blue, and black. She dares to look beyond the ordinary for other colors that might exist, and she never gets tired of looking. What she finds one day changes her forever.

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?

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