Earlier today I discovered that it’s World Penguin Day. Though I had no idea such a day existed, I happen to love penguins. The penguin room at the Central Park Zoo is one of my favorite places in New York City.
So, in honor of this sacred day and my love for these utterly delightful creatures, I present ten of my favorite books featuring penguins.
Ages Birth to 4
By Sandra Boynton
I’ve mentioned before, and can’t stress enough, how much I adore Sandra Boynton; her books—full of humorous stories, adorable characters, and warm, fuzzy feelings—are perfect for babies and toddlers. Her straightforward text and instantly recognizable, simple art is utterly appealing and completely irresistible.
In this heartwarming story, a darling little penguin is attempting to endear himself to an initially confused, eventually amenable, hippopotamus.
“Now, lots of other penguins seem to be fine in a universe of nothing but ice. But if I could be yours, and you could be mine, our cozy little world would be twice as nice. I want to be Your Personal Penguin.”
Who could truly resist such an offer?
By Antoinette Portis
Edna is a small and inquisitive penguin. She’s surrounded by white—the ice and snow, black—the night, and blue—the sky and the water. When she goes searching for more color, she finds an orange tent.
She brings some of her penguin friends to check it out and one of the human researchers inhabiting the tent gives Edna an orange glove. She dons it as a hat and wonders what other colors the world might have to offer.
By Salina Yoon
Yoon’s bold, cartoon-y illustrations and sparse text combine to produce an endearing story of friendship and patience.
When Penguin found Pinecone he didn’t know what it was but it seemed like it was cold, so he knit a scarf for it. Grandpa explains to Penguin that pinecones live in forests, not in the snow.
Penguin is sad but he must do what’s best for Pinecone, and he returns him to the forest. Later, when Penguin comes back to visit his friend, he discovers that Pinecone has grown, and so has Penguin’s love for Pinecone.
View the book trailer!
By Oliver Jeffers
Oliver Jeffers’s, This Moose Belongs to Me (2012) was a NYTimes Bestseller. His soft, calming art is crisp and expressive.
“Once there was a boy who found a penguin at his door.”
The boy, thinking the penguin is lost, sets out to find out where this quiet bird belongs. He learns that penguins live at the South Pole; the boy and the bird make the trip together.
Once at their destination the boy learns his new friend wasn’t lost at all, just lonely, and the two friends decide to stick together.
By Helen Lester
Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
This pair has created some wonderful books together; Tacky the Penguin was one of my favorite books to sell. Lester’s stories are touching and funny and Munsinger’s art is whimsical and vibrant.
Tacky is not like the other penguins. They wear bowties, he wears a Hawaiian shirt; they are quiet and polite, Tacky is loud and graceless. But it’s Tacky’s odd behavior that scares off a pack of hunters and saves them all.
By Brenda Z. Guiberson
Illustrated by Joan Paley
Clear text and luscious collage art take us through a year in the life of Emperor penguins—their harsh environment, their family dynamic and their eating habits.
After the mother lays the egg, the father must carefully roll the egg onto his feet and keep it warm. Once the egg hatches, both parents must work diligently to feed the chick and keep it safe and warm. The chick will make its first swim during the short summer, then the whole family must fatten up for the approaching winter.
This informative non-fiction book is also a beautiful storybook.
By Florence Minor
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Katherine Tegen Books
With playful, rhyming text and lush, detailed art, this husband and wife team takes readers on a journey through some of the fun activities a penguin experiences—diving, swimming, and sliding on the ice, to name a few.
There’s also a visual key to the ten different species of penguins found in this book and resources for learning more about penguins.
By Toni Buzzeo
Illustrated by David Small
Small’s clean, loose line drawings and restricted palette bring Buzzeo’s spare and quirky text to life.
Young Eliot visits the zoo with his father and decides to bring one of the penguins home with him! His father—easily distracted and often otherwise engaged—doesn’t seem to notice the new resident at his house, or so readers are lead to believe.
By Dieter Wiesmuller
Out of print
Stunningly beautiful, sumptuous paintings cover every page of this over-sized picture book.
Polo Penguin and Marco Monkey meet when Marco’s cruise ship arrives in Antarctica. Marco is amazed at all the icy sites Polo introduces him to; he’s also amazed at how cold he is.
When Marco says he must go home Polo decides to travel with him since he’s eager to learn all about Marco’s home. The lush, green world is very different from his icy blue environs, and so, so hot!
The two friends would like to be together but realize they must each return to their own home; now they each have a pen pal.
By Justin Richardson
and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster
This beautiful book is based on a true story about an unorthodox family at the Central Park Zoo. Soft, realistic watercolors adorn this uplifting and sweet story.
While all the other mated penguins are tending to their newly laid eggs, Roy and Silo—two male penguins—find a rock to care for together. The zookeeper notices their activities and trades the rock for a penguin egg in need of nurturing.
The two take turns caring for the fragile egg and before long their daughter Tango is born.
By Richard & Florence Atwater
Illustrated by Robert Lawson
Originally published: 1938
Reprint edition: Little, Brown
This fantastically ridiculous story—and 1939 Newbury Honor book— was illustrated by the extremely talented Robert Lawson (The Story of Ferdinand).
Mr. Popper wishes he’d seen more of the world before he married Mrs. Popper. He spends his spare time reading and daydreaming about Arctic explorers. Then one of those explorers sends him a penguin in response to a fan letter!
When that penguin gets lonely, the Poppers acquire another lonely penguin to be his mate; eventually the pair produces ten more penguins. And that’s when Mr. Popper starts touring the “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole” show.
And hilarity ensues.
This is not only an excellent read-aloud book for the whole family, but also an enjoyable (and quick) book for any reader who loves to laugh.