Friday, February 10, 2012

The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin by John Burns

I really wanted to love this book. How could you not want to love a book about a little penguin on an adventure to find his missing parents? There were so many issues with this book that it detracted from the story.
The book started very realistic. Pengey the Penguin is born under his father’s care. His mother never returns from her trek to the sea. Unable to care for Pengey and himself, his father leaves to find food. It’s sad and made me think of March of the Penguins. A somewhat realistic story would have worked or should have.
It wasn’t long before Pengey is in contact with humans. Suddenly, he’s communicating with them and eventually talking. I just couldn’t make the shift with the story.
The biggest problem with this book is the language. I really dislike juvenile fiction that cannot pick an age group. You have to write for your audience. The language in this book is simple about 80% of the time and then come these off the wall descriptions and language that is no longer simple.
The writing is not good and that makes me rather sad. I know that someone poured their heart out into this story and apparently it’s well loved. However, the author makes every writing no-no in this book. “He banged his head very badly…” “His last thoughts as he fell asleep were that humans were pretty cool…”
The last thing that annoyed me was some of the details. How does the penguin know what time it was? How did he know the name of the sea? He hadn’t been with his father for very long, how did he know so much information. There were moments I was sure Pengey must be psychic because the information was far too exact for what he should have known.
I love children’s books but there’s more to a book than a great story. Wonderful, lyrical words make up the stories we remember. A child might enjoy this story but it won’t become the one they quote.

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