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The Curse of the Werepenguin

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
The Curse of the Werepenguin Book Poster Image
Funny, absurd adventure is full of heart ... and penguins.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Comic fantasy, meant to entertain. Kids learn the basics of werewolf lore -- transferred onto penguins.

Positive Messages

Strong messages -- all delivered with humor --about forgiveness, trying your best, and the value of family in many forms.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There aren’t many positive role models for Bolt throughout the book, but Annika’s dad comes around in a big way when he sees her bravery, and Bolt himself is a constant force for good. There’s an orphan trying to save a town he barely knows, a young bandit who overcomes her stubbornness, characters who don’t let their pride get in the way of doing what’s right, and a huge focus on family. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Allan Woodrow’s The Curse of the Werepenguin takes absurd hilarity to another level, and blends it with a fast-paced, engaging story that would be sad if it wasn’t so funny. This wacky tale is full of “wink-wink-nudge-nudge” moments for the reader while having all the trappings of a tragedy: an orphan looking for his parents, a mean child-baron in a castle, a village under siege, bandits who plunder in the forest, and more. This zippy adventure will keep the attention of readers of many levels.

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What's the story?

In THE CURSE OF THE WEREPENGUIN, orphan Bolt Wattle wants nothing more than to find his family. When he’s suddenly sent to a mysterious baron in a place he’s never heard of, Bolt gets his hopes up, sure he’s destined to find his parents in Brugaria. What he finds is Baron Chordata, a yelling tyrant who lives in a castle, looks like a 12-year-old boy, and bites Bolt and turns him into a half-penguin, half-boy. The only way to break the curse that would permanently turn him into a werepenguin is to work with the villagers and bandits, all of who hate and distrust Bolt.

Is it any good?

This funny adventure takes a predictable plot and turns it on its side, adds humor and absurdity, and lets the reader enjoy the fabulous results. The pacing of The Curse of the Werepenguin is excellent; fast, with moments when the narrator jumps in that let the reader take a breath and think about the plot. This could easily have been a formulaic story, but that goes out the window as soon as author Allan Woodrow brings in the whale cult led by a guy who wields a stale loaf of French bread as a weapon, the friendly/sinister fortune teller, and of course, the premise of werepenguins who do battle by the light of the moon. Everything ties together in the end, and there’s a wonderful focus on how important family is, no matter what form it takes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the wacky humor in The Curse of the Werepenguin. How does it change what could be a sad story? What other funny books have you read? Which are your favorites?

  • Bolt always knew he was a bit different, that he had a certain gift. What gifts do you have that make you unique?

  • How do you think Bolt's life as an orphan affected the way he felt about the villagers, about Frau Farfenugen, about Annika?

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