About the Holiday
Who can resist those little black-and-white waddlers from a frozen realm? Today’s holiday gives us a chance to enjoy and learn more about one of the world’s favorite animals. To celebrate, research penguins or visit an aquarium, and, of course, read a great penguin book!
Written by Cynthia Rylant | Illustrated by Christian Robinson
A tiny penguin stands at the window star-struck by the snowflakes floating gently down. Four more penguins join her to see this marvelous sight. There are so “many snowflakes.” Gathered around the window in their igloo home, the penguins are excited that “Winter is coming!” They rush to collect their cold-weather supplies. Out of the basket they pull mittens—a pair for each, red, blue, green, yellow, sage—“and matching scarves.”
With abandon the penguins raid the bureau, scattering socks like colorful confetti. Warm, dry boots get to leave their cubbies after a looong nap. Bundled up, the penguins tumble out into the winter wonderland. They sled and slide on the deep snow. In places they find the snow is top-of-their-boots deeper, and then suddenly waist-high, “very deep.”
Uh-Oh! Suddenly the landscape is blank-page white! Four of the little penguins look in all directions. “Where’s Mama?” No need to fret—Mama’s coming, skimming down the hill on her belly with the fifth tiny penguin. But the sky is darkening and it’s time to head for home. “In the door and off, off, off, off, off!”
On go the jammies then warm cookies and filled “sippies” satisfy the tummy. Finally, it’s time to snuggle tight under colored blankets and watch the flurries fly because “Winter is here.”
Cynthia Rylant captures the exhilaration kids feel upon the first snow of winter in her delightful concept book. The flurry of activity to dig out the accoutrements of winter provide little readers the perfect opportunity to learn or—in the case of a bit older kids—to show their knowledge of cold-weather apparel, colors, counting skills, and other ideas. Rylant’s gifted way with even the simplest words turns the question-and-answer format of Little Penguins into a lyrical frolic little ones will love.
In Christian Robinson’s cozy igloo, the eager brightness of the little penguins is highlighted against the mottled textures of sage walls and reflected in the gleaming gray-blue floor. The little home with its fish weather vane and tall chimney sits at the edge of an icy peninsula, perfectly placed for winter play. The five penguins joyfully don their mittens, wave their scarves and toss socks to and fro in their hurry to get dressed and get outside and enjoy the fat, fluffy snowflakes.
Once there, the penguins become tiny dots on the vast, white hill as they sink waist deep, glide on their bellies, and welcome Mama, who’s joined the fun. As the penguins remove their snow gear back home, Robinson cleverly stripes the two-page spread in the favorite colors of the individual penguins, creating a striking counterbalance to the snug kitchen to come. An old-fashioned stove, retro accents, and fish, whale, and boat décor wrap up the comfy charm of this superb book for young readers.
With its sweet characters and beautiful illustrations, Little Penguins would be a happy and often-asked-for addition to any child’s bookshelf.
Ages 2 – 7
Schwartz & Wade, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553507706
To learn more about Cynthia Rylant and her books, visit her website!
View a gallery of illustration art by Christian Robinson on his website!
Penguin Awareness Day Activity
Spicy Cool Penguins
Don’t throw away those empty spice bottles—instead make these cute penguins with their colorful hats who are just waiting to play!
- Empty glass or plastic spice bottle with cap
- Black paint
- White paint OR White fleece or felt
- Black paper
- Yellow foam or heavy paper
- Googly eyes
- Styrofoam ball (optional)
- Paint brush
- Paint the inside of the glass or plastic bottle with the black paint, let dry
- From the white fleece, cut an oval for the penguin’s belly and glue it on. Alternatively, paint a white oval on the jar to make a belly. Fleece may be a better option for younger children, as the paint can scratch off glass and plastic surfaces.
- Glue googly eyes near the top of the jar, but below the cap
- Cut a triangle of yellow foam or paper for the beak and glue it on
- Cut two tear shapes for the wings from the black paper. Glue the top of the shape to the body of the penguin, overlapping the belly a little. Fold the tips up
- Give your penguins Styrofoam ball snowballs to play with!
Picture Book Review