by Anne Schreiber
Penguins look like cuddly soft-toys. They waddle when they walk, and surf as they swim. They look like they are dressed in tuxedos, ready to go to the ball. Who can resist the lure of a penguin?
The book tells us that they are not just the clowns of the ocean, but are well adapted for their life at sea. Their sleek shape is built for speed. The blubber keeps them warm. They have two layers of feathers: soft inner feathers to trap the heat, and stiff oily feathers to keep out the water. Their webbed feet help in steering.
The information is presented in short easy-to-read paragraphs or as bubbled explanations of specific aspects of the photograph. It is perfectly suited for second grade reading. At no time will the second grader be overwhelmed by too much reading matter.
Each two-page spread has a riddle that relates a penguin fact in a manner sure to elicit a groan from a young reader. For example:
Did the penguin leap out of the water by accident?
No, he did it on porpoise.
Small callouts entitled bird words explain the harder vocabulary words. The last page has photos and a couple of illustrations that provide a visual explanation of the words, thus aiding comprehension.
It is a chapter book. The chapters progress logically providing the reader all the pertinent facts about penguins, form where they live, to how they live, and how they take care of their babies. The illustrations are rich glossy photos, something to be expected from a National Geographic publication.