|Image from BarnesandNoble.com|
After Little Turtle’s father reads him a bedtime story about penguins, Little Turtle falls asleep and dreams that he’s a penguin. The next morning he decides to be a penguin for the day, so he waddles into a pair of red slippers and drapes an old black coat over his head and arms. At school his classmates are intrigued, so Little Turtle points out all the reasons he loves penguins. “We want to be penguins too!” And so Little Turtle and his friends have a penguin day at school, full of waddling, sliding, and penguin dreams at naptime. That night at bedtime, Father Turtle reads a new book about monkeys. Guess what Little Turtle decides to be when he wakes up in the morning?
The watercolor illustrations create a colorful, finely detailed world. The characters are wide-eyed and friendly, reminiscent of those in a Richard Scarry book. I love that Little Turtle’s classmates don’t tease him for wearing an old coat over his head, instead they are curious and welcoming. The text, half description and half dialogue, incorporates general information about penguins, but never pulls the focus away from Little Turtle’s story. Gorbachev includes a list of penguin facts at the back of the book.
Before you read the book, ask the kids what animal they would want to dress and act like for a day. Turn this discussion question into a writing/art activity by having kids write a few sentences and then illustrate their choice. Or stand in a circle around one child who must act and make noises like the animal they want to be for the day. Everyone in the circle imitates their actions and sounds. Can the kids in the circle guess what the animal the child in the center is mimicking?
Use this book for a penguin storytime, pairing it with the books, Tacky the Penguin, Sergio Makes a Splash, and Penguin. The kids in the book do several penguin activities that are easy to recreate. Turn on some “waddling” music and have kids do their best penguin impression. You can also bring in tennis balls and have the kids pass them back and forth like penguins do with their eggs. Create penguin cards, turn them over on the floor/table, and have the kids match the different kinds of penguins.