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Little Penguin


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Patrick Benson received the 1984 Mother Goose Award as the most exciting new book artist, and in 19985 he won the Kurt Maschler Award for "The Little Boat" which was shortlisted for the Smarties Book Prize and Highly Commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal.


Pip is a three-year-old Adelie penguin who lives in the Antarctic. The playful animal slides down snow-covered hills, glides over the ice and swims through the frigid water. Life is fun-filled and carefree, except for one thing: Pip can't understand why she is so little, and not like the emperor penguins that tower above her. Then Pip meets William the sperm whale, who is enormous--even though he, too, is just three years old. The two have a grand time playing, and Pip realizes that size doesn't make any difference. Sprinkled throughout Benson's informative text are the spontaneous, cheerful songs that Pip sings to herself, reminiscent of those any three-year-old might chant. At once realistic and humorous, the primarily blue-and-white-toned pictures add a great deal to this bright tale. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)

PreS-Gr 1-- Pip, a three-year-old Adelie penguin, feels insignificant when compared to the much larger Emperor penguins with whom she shares the Antarctic landscape. As she plays in the water and on the snow and ice, she wonders about other animals that come in big and little sizes, like fish, but when she finds a new playmate just her age, a Sperm whale, Pip is no longer worried. And the next time she passes the Emperor penguins, ``They're big, but not so big, she thinks, and she walks right on by.'' This little penguin's preoccupation with size is an on-target subject for young listeners who are also attempting to understand their places in the scheme of the larger universe. Benson's illustrations are realistic yet have intrinsic child appeal; because the polar landscape is naturally sparse, readers can focus on Pip and her antics in every picture. Even large areas of black, such as the penguins' backs and the gigantic whale, are softened through the judicious use of crosshatching. The book's gentle humor, the presentation of simple science concepts, and the reassuring conclusion earn it a place on library shelves. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT

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