Written by: Marcie Colleen
Illustrated by: Emma Yarlett
Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2018, fiction
For ages: 3-7
Themes/topics: friendship, adventure, independence, persistence
First two spreads:
Orville was small.
His friends were BIG.
Summary (from the publisher):
Orville lives at the zoo, surrounded by animal pals who go on exciting adventures. A hang gliding rhino! A deep-sea diving giraffe! Orville struggles to keep up, until one day he concocts an adventure all his own: build a spaceship and fly to the moon all by himself. Can one tiny penguin get there alone?
Penguinaut is perfect for every child who’s said, “I can do it myself!” and comes to find that the rewards are much richer when shared with friends. Marcie Colleen’s playful text and Emma Yarlett’s charming, whimsical illustrations are sure to delight both children and their parents.
Why I love this book:
Any child (or adult) who’s ever been told she’s “too small” to do something or who’s envied the big adventures her friends are having will identify with Orville. With heart, grit, and creativity, Orville manages to blast-off and rocket himself, by himself, all the way to the moon. And while reaching the moon is, in fact, a pretty epic adventure, it’s also a bit lonely up there by himself. I think kids will enjoy talking about the pros and cons of solo versus shared adventures. And Marcie Colleen’s wordplay is masterful. I love that Orville “flippered out” and gave a “trembling flipper salute”!
Emma Yarlett’s mixed-media illustrations depict Orville’s world with whimsy and charm. The adorable penguin’s resolve comes through beautifully in the art, and I especially love the crayoned note from his friends that falls out of Orville’s pocket in his loneliest moment on the moon.
Who can resist big-hearted Penguinaut?
For further reading/activities:
Check out this review from Julie Rowan-Zoch that includes suggestions for fun rocket and night sky crafts: https://julierowanzoch.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/ppbf-penguinaut/
And read this great interview for insights into Marcie’s inspiration for Orville: https://picturebookbuilders.com/2018/11/penguinaut-by-marcie-colleen/
(For a collection of picture book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)