One thing I love about Eerdmans Books is that they publish many books for kids from other countries. So much about them seems different than books written in the U.S., which is illuminating on a meta level, and makes them all the more interesting.
This one comes from an Australian author, and is about Gilbert, a newly born penguin. Upon Gilbert’s first glance out of his egg, he sees the moon, stars, and birds wheeling overhead, and wants to be one of those birds; in fact, he assumes he is!
But Gilbert cannot get the knack of flying:
“. . . Gilbert had big clumsy feet
And small fluffy wings.”
That didn’t stop him from trying.
But instead of flying,
He slipped on the ice,
Tripped on the rocks, and
Stumbled over his sleeping family.”
Finally he decides to follow an albatross to the top of a cliff and soar off after him.
Gilbert took off, but instead of soaring, went “down down down…”
He splashed into the sea and sank. When he opened his eyes, he saw stars and moons, floating forests, and mighty mountaintops. Delighted, he spread his wings and flew through the water.
Watercolor washes by illustrator Jonathan Bentley take us from the snowy penguin world above water to the blues and greens of their undersea habitat. Children in the intended audience of ages 3-6 will want to cuddle Gilbert, shown as all fluffy in shades of white, grey, and black.
Evaluation: Readers will learn about penguin habitats in this book, and the birds with whom penguins share it. In addition, they will see that while Gilbert may be small and young, he is confident and persistent from the moment he comes into the world. His positive attitude makes all the difference, allowing him to be all that he can be.
Published in the U.S. by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2019