Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Penguin Book Poster Image
Charming, whimsical boy-meets-bird tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a cute story that is meant to be light and silly. However, the little boy gets eaten by a blue lion and then is rescued by the nose-biting penguin.

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What's the story?

After Ben receives a penguin as a present, he tries everything he can think of to make him talk. However, he has absolutely no luck, and in his frustration yells very loudly, \"Say Something!\" This irritates a passing lion, who swallows Ben in a single gulp. Finally, penguin steps into action, and well, we finally learn what it takes to make a penguin talk.

Is it any good?

Kids will love the silliness of this story in much the same way as they love the Pigeon books. The penguin has character, and his stubbornness almost unhinges Ben. In the end, it takes a pretty drastic move to break the ice and start the two toward an understanding friendship. Kids will love that too.

Polly Dunbar's multimedia illustrations are cute, simple, and uncluttered. With whimsical flair, her lines perfectly express both Ben's changing moods and the penguin's bemused silence. Nothing extra is included in this story of the chubby-cheeked, pajama-clad boy and his developing relationship with the very quiet penguin. Kids will enjoy its playful tone; adults will love its charm.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about real penguins and where they live. They might also talk about whether a penguin would be a good gift. What would they do if they opened a present and found one inside the box? Would they expect the penguin to talk as Ben did? Why did the penguin say nothing when Ben did all his crazy tricks? Can you think of anything else that might have worked? After the lion swallowed Ben, why did the penguin bite his nose? How did the penguin change? What lesson did Ben learn?

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