Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek
|Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: Beautiful illustrations but such a sad story, you'll know for yourself whether it's a good idea for your child.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 32||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Walker Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Blue Penguin is about a penguin who is, well, blue. Most penguins are not blue, so he stands out. He's different. They don't think he belongs with them. He's not part of the gang because of the way he looks.
There are lots of children's books about fitting in and valuing differences and this is another one to add to that pile. However I think it can go quite near the bottom because something about it didn't sit quite right with me.
It's certainly not the illustrations because these are stunning and capture wonderfully the essence of the south pole where the penguins live. It's a lovely wintery book for lazy Sunday afternoons on the sofa where you want to feel all snug and warm as you look at the blinding white snow and the glowing red sun on the pages. I really did like the pictures in this book.
But, and I hate to say this, I did not care much for the story. The basic premise is fine (learning you're different, coming to terms with that, a suitably happy ending) but I though the route it took to reach that conclusion was odd. I felt incredibly sorry for the whale who they turned their back on without a second thought, and I couldn't help but feel that the other penguins only started to be nice to Blue Penguin when they realised he might go off and have lots of fun without them. It didn't feel like their offer of friendship was real, and it all seemed a little hollow.
This is a sad story. The ending is happy (ish) but that doesn't negate the fact that the many pages leading up to that are rather depressing and, I felt, a little unsuitable for a book for this age group. I think maybe because it ends quite suddenly, so you don't get to see a sustained, happy life for Blue Penguin. You turn a page and boom, they're all friends again, the end. I had a few books that were similarly upsetting when I was younger and they left me asking lots of questions afterwards, so were never really suitable for bedtime because I got worked up and sad, and would need reassuring before I could sleep.
The author is not English by birth, and although the language in the book is not flawed, I do wonder whether there's something about the tone that adds to my feelings of unease.
I wanted to like the story more, because I really did love the pictures. It will depend on how sensitive your child is, but I would suggest borrowing it from the library first to see how they get on with it before deciding to invest.
I'd like to thank the publishers for supplying a copy. For more penguin fun we can recommend Little Penguin Learns to Swim by Dubravka Kolanovic and Eilidh Rose.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek at Amazon.com.
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