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365 Penguins Hardcover – November 1, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–This hilarious, oversize picture book integrates challenging math concepts and environmental concerns into a clever narrative. On New Year's Day, a family receives an anonymous package containing a penguin. The young narrator chases the bird around the house as it runs amok and knocks over lamps and furniture. His sister, Amy, finds a note, I'm number 1. Feed me when I'm hungry. Just as the message implies, there are more to come; by the end of the year, 365 in all. Penguins, penguins everywhere./Black and white and in my hair, sighs Amy. As they arrive, readers must recall the number of days in each month–by the end of February, they are calculating the number of penguins in all. Then Father decides to organize them, first into four groups of 15, later in boxes by the dozen, and, finally, into a cubic formation. By summer, the heat, noise, and smell are unbearable. On New Year's Eve, ecologist Uncle Victor arrives and the mystery is solved. The engaging story is illustrated in a flat retro design with a palette dominated by orange, blue, gray, and black and white. The comical birds watch TV, dance with their teenage sister, and eat everything in sight. The text provides endless opportunities for word problems, and units on penguins and global warming will never be the same.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this oversize picture book from France, family members deal with penguins that arrive at their home--one a day, for a full year. The high jinks begin on New Year's Day. As the penguin population increases, Dad, Mom, and the kids use multiplication and a few other schemes to organize, feed, and care for the increasing number of birds, but the scheme they hatch only meets with temporary success. At the end of the year, Uncle Victor, an ecologist, arrives; explains why he has sent the birds; and takes all but one of them, Chilly, away. The premise is goofy, but the math is fun, and the generous trim size, eleven by fourteen and one-half inches, allows plenty of room to show the growing penguin population. The illustrations, in orange, blue, and black, give a retro, almost surreal look to the art, which perfectly fits the story. This is a lively romp from the beginning to the end--when the first polar bear arrives. But that's another story. Randall Enos
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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But that is an adult's perspective. The true test of a children's book is, of course, how do children like it? My daughters and I agree that the book is too big for comfortable reading, especially while snuggling, but from there we parted company. They thought the story line was hilarious and they loved the illustrations. They were delighted with the arrival of the first penguin and laughed each time a new one arrived. They got a kick out of the various ways the family attempted to organize the penguins and they were intrigued by the problems with caring for that many animals. They especially liked the part about the penguins in the bathtub when the teenage daughter is trying to take a shower.
At ages 3 and 5, the math problems were above their heads, but at least they're getting some exposure. And the book helps give them a better concept of a year. They thought the resolution to the penguin problem was perfect, especially considering that Chilly was their favorite penguin. And they loved the first arrival of the new year.
Having read this with the kids, I now appreciate the book and recommend it, but not without qualifications. Obviously, if you don't want your kids exposed to global warming "propaganda", this is not the book for you, but then, again, you might not want to get into penguins at all. And even if you don't mind the Message, you might not want to get beaten over the head with it. If you can, I recommend checking this one out at the library first. But chances are your little ones will want it read over and over, so adding it to your permanent collection may be necessary.
By December 31 the "mysterious" sender of Penguins arrives and is relieved to see that they all arrived safely, including Chilly the blue footed penguin. The Uncle gives you an ecology lesson and takes all but one penguin when he goes, and life returns to normal, but on January 1 a new surpise is waiting at the door.
The book is oversized 16 x 12, and the artwork is fun in retro blue, orange, black and white. My son thinks its a riot, he's 7. He likes to look for Chilly in the pictures, he likes to come up with names for the penguins, and he likes to count them and add them up.
This book definately sparks an interest in math, but it also lights up the imagination. We also have talked about what would be fun to get every day of the year. My son and I like our books with birds and this book is helping him to gain a little more confidence with numbers, and he sees now that numbers are every where. It's fun, I was blown away with how much he likes this book.
I think you could extend the ages on this book up to 9 or 10 because of some of the math concepts.