Monday, July 26, 2010

Pierre the Penguin, by Jean Marzollo and Laura Regan (ages 4 - 7)

We love visiting aquariums and zoos, especially seeing zookeepers taking care of the animals and learning about ways we can help animals in their natural environments. We've always been fascinated with penguins, and there's a new story that will warm your heart: Pierre the Penguin. It's a true story, about a zookeeper's determined care and persistence in providing the best support and attention for the animals under her watchful eye. I also love sharing this story with children, and talking about how we can overcome problems by thinking outside of the box and being creative.
Pierre the Penguin: A True Story
by Jean Marzolloillustrated by Laura Regan
MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2010
ages 4 - 7
available on Amazon and at your local library
Pierre is the oldest African penguin living at the California Academy of Sciences, a wonderful aquarium and museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. When Pierre began to lose his feathers, but the zoo staff didn't know how to help him. Pam Schaller, a senior aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, said that Pierre's bald spots were actually dangerous. Not only did Pierre get cold and afraid to swim, the other penguins started to ignore Pierre and refused to play with him. They even harassed him by braying, as artist Laura Regan shows below.

So Pam and the other biologists tried everything they could think of to help Pierre. But heaters didn't help him feel more comfortable, and medication didn't help the feathers grow back. Pierre's plight bothered Pam - she cared deeply about him.

It took thinking outside of the box to come up with a solution. One one rainy day, Pam was walking her dog. Now, her dog was used to warm Hawaii climate, and so Pam always has her dog wear a rain coat if he needs to keep warm. Inspiration struck - why couldn't Pierre wear a wetsuit to keep warm? Pam created a specially fitted wetsuit, and it worked like a charm. Now, Pierre was able to swim, take his role as senior penguin, and be comfortable once again.

The artwork in this picture book will draw children into this heartfelt story. Laura Regan is a wonderful wildlife artist. She emphasizes Pam's concern for the penguins, and she brings children into seeing the penguins up close. The warm colors of the background set a calm tone, and let children focus on how the penguins move and interact. The story is told in rhyming text, which will make it a great read-aloud for home or the classroom.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, come meet artist Laura Regan at Mrs. Dalloway's Books in Berkeley. There will be arts projects, and fun stories about how she was able to get to know Pierre and learn about penguins. Here are the details:
Laura Regan
illustrator of Pierre the Penguin
at Mrs. Dalloway's Books
Saturday, July 31st at 10:30 am
2904 College Ave.
Berkeley, CA
(510) 704-8222
The review copy came from Mrs. Dalloway's Books. This is a wonderful independent bookstore, with knowledgeable staff who always point us toward great children's books. Stop by for what will be sure to be a fun event.

Amazon Affiliate: if you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). This enables me to purchase new books to review, and helps me keep up with great books to share with you and your children. Thank you for your support.

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