Little Penguins

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Little Penguins Book Poster Image
Beautifully simple book evokes joy of playing in snow.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

What to wear when playing in snow: mittens, scarves, socks, boots. Color red. Opportunities to count penguins and their gear. "Please" and "thank you" modeled.

Positive Messages

Playing in the snow is fun. Caring adults watch over us and help us. It's good to suit up for the snow, and warm up afterward.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The young penguins dutifully suit up to play in the snow. They take pleasure in playing outdoors. They say "please" and "thank you" when adults give them snacks.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Penguins by Newbery Medal-winning author and illustrator Cynthia Rylant (Poppleton Series) and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street) is a winner itself. It's simple enough to please the youngest readers, but also feels profound. Told with minimal text, five penguins suit up to play in the snow, slide down a hill, and come inside to warm themselves. The cut-and-torn paper collage paired with acrylic paint feels very much like an Ezra Jack Keats book, and, like the snowy day it depicts, the quiet simplicity of this book is hushed and deep.

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What's the story?

In LITTLE PENGUINS, five penguins who live in an igloo notice the snow outside their window and get dressed to play outside. They put on mittens, scarves, socks, and boots, and head out to slide down their hill.  The snow is deep, and they wonder where their mama is. "On her way!" When they realize they're cold, "Brrr," they head home for warm cookies and sippies, then tuck into their five snuggly blanketed beds to sleep.

Is it any good?

This elegantly simple book about penguins playing in the snow has the classic feel of a book that can be read and re-read. Its evocative torn-paper collage art and snow theme directly recall Ezra Jack Keats's classic winter book, The Snowy Day, while the deep blue, thickly brush-stroked skies might be an homage to Eric Carle. The questions and simple answers create opportunities for call and response. "Snowflakes? Many snowflakes." "Mittens? Many mittens." Youngest readers can identify with these mitten-wearing penguins, and with the penguins' youthful delight in playing in the snow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about bundling up for going out in the snow. What do the penguins in Little Penguins wear? What do you wear?

  • How is the art made? How do you think the artist made the chunky snowflakes? What about the scarves? Do the scarves look different on different pages?

  • These penguins are like children since they wear clothes and sleep in beds. Can you find any ways they're also like real penguins?

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