|Image from BarnesandNoble.com|
One day a boy finds a penguin, a very sad looking penguin that follows him everywhere. The penguin doesn’t say a word, but the boy thinks he must be lost and sets out to find the penguin’s home. After asking many unresponsive birds to tell him where penguins live, the boy finds the answer in a book: the South Pole! But how to get there? He tries the harbor, but he can’t make himself heard over the loud horn of the gigantic ship. So the boy and the penguin pull out a row boat and pack it with many supplies and push it out to sea. They row for many days and nights. To pass the time the boy tells story after story and the penguin listens. They reach the South Pole and the boy and penguin say good-bye. But as the boy rows away he looks back and the penguin looked sadder than ever. And the boy realizes that the penguin wasn’t sad because he was lost! He was sad because he was lonely! The boy manages to find the penguin again and together they row home, “talking of wonderful things all the way.”
Jeffers’ spare and subtle text creates the foundation for a wonderful story about the joys friendship. The simple act of spending time and sharing stories with a friend is celebrated in this unusual bird-boy friendship. The bold and colorful watercolor illustrations are stylized and soft. The boy, with his round bald head, striped shirt, and stick-like legs, takes his mission very seriously. The compositions are eye-catching and size, shape, light, and color make the environment almost like a third character.
Use this for a storytime about getting lost and pair it with books like, Addis Berner Bear Forgets or Sheila Rae the Brave. This is also a good time to talk about what to do if you get lost. Invite a police officer to your storytime to read a story and discuss this topic. If parents attend your storytime don't forget to provide information for them as well. Look at the tips on the websites for Parents Magazine Online and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Follow up with your favorite penguin craft or try folding an origami penguin-in-a-boat out of just one sheet of paper (Scroll about halfway down the page).
There’s a lovely (but rather long at 24 minutes) 3D animated film based on the book and narrated by Jim Broadbent. I was only able to skim the video, but I think it maybe a little slow paced for youngsters, however it is beautifully rendered and the soundtrack is especially notable.
The boy and the penguin continue their adventures in Up and Down and the boy is also the protagonist of How to Catch a Star and The Way Back Home.