PPBF: Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks


Penguin in Peril
Written and Illustrated by: Helen Hancocks
Templar/Candlewick Books, 2013

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: scheming cats, wily penguin, crazy caper

Opening: “One afternoon, three hungry cats ran out of food. They searched the house high and low and found three gold coins. They set off for the grocery store.”

Brief Synopsis: Well, those foolish cats don’t get to the store – they spend their coins on movie tickets. Still hungry but now inspired, they hatch a plot to kidnap a penguin from the zoo to serve as their fishy meal catcher. The penguin balks and manages to escape, leading to a hilarious cross-city chase.

darn penguin

How does a penguin hide in the city? By ducking past nuns, men in black bowler hats, and bow-tied waiters of course. Each new scene made us howl with laughter as we searched for the cats, hats and habits. But will the penguin make it safely back to the zoo?

Links To Resources:

Make an origami penguin

Try this fun penguin balloon craft

Stage a penguin puppet show after creating paper bag penguin puppets

Ranger Rick from the  National Wildlife Federation has a good article on Adelie penguins

Why I Like This Book:

It’s an multi-award nominee!
In December 2013 Penguin in Peril was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal, Peters Books & Furniture Book of the Year, the Oxfordshire Book Awards and the Waterstone’s Children’s Book prize.

Its just plain fun!
There is no moral or message to be discerned, beyond perhaps “Crime does not pay.” This is a perfect silly book to share with a TV-cartoon obsessed reluctant reader and show them just how fun books can truly be. Plus they will learn some great new vocabulary words. Gruel anyone?

April 25 is World Penguin Day!
With this much of a headstart, we can plan a penguin-tacular celebration!

For a complete list of great books with resources, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Or if you prefer robins to penguins (and who doesn’t need a sign of spring right about now?) check out my recent review of NEST by Jorey Hurley at Good Reads with Ronna.

nest 1



About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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48 Responses to PPBF: Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks

  1. rnewman504 says:

    Cathy, this sounds very, very cute (although, for obvious reasons, I am a tad partial to Robins). Great review!

  2. Catherine Johnson says:

    Cathy that sounds so much fun! I hope the library has it.

  3. izatrapani1 says:

    Sounds like a fun book! Sometimes pure nonsense is just what is needed!

  4. jama says:

    Must see this book! Sounds hilarious :).

  5. This looks absolutely adorable. Love the art! :0)

  6. I had to come over as soon as I saw the word PENGUIN, as I am obsessed with them. This is adorable! Definitely putting it in my cart for the boys. 🙂

  7. tinamcho says:

    Sounds like a hilarious book! I like the cover!

  8. That cover is so funny! i just read the post from the Write Stuff for Shadows on the Wall. Then here’s your pick with shadows on the wall!! Too funny! This looks like an excellent book. Kind of like Wallace and Gromit’s penguin caper. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be looking for this one!

  9. Wendy says:

    I was so glad to see the clever cover because when I saw the title alone it had me worried that it was going to be a sad eco story. And it looks like just the opposite. On my list!

  10. This book sounds great, but what an unusual plot. Pengun-napping by hungry cats — will be interested in how the author pulled the two together. Sounds very entertaining.

  11. This sounds hilarious. I’ll look for this one, Cathy. You had me at scheming cats. 🙂

  12. Sounds hilarious! I’m definitely on the lookout for this one.

  13. LovableLobo says:

    A bunch a silliness! I love silly cats’ capers!

  14. Sue Wang says:

    I like this twist, penguin didn’t play and made the cats work for it. Funny and good for adults too.

  15. Joanna says:

    Yay for perfectly silly stories like this!

  16. This sounds like a hoot! Must look out for it. Thanks, Cathy.

  17. This one sounds perfectly charming. Thanks for telling me about it. I will definitely check it out.

  18. SOLD! Sounds ridiculously funny, and I like funny! Plus groovy lookin’ illos! Plus YOU like it!

  19. Fun! Ordering now… 🙂

  20. I’m sold on the cover! So cute. And I was ask if Renee the penguin lover knew about this book but then I scrolled up and saw that she commented.

  21. I wouldn’t have picked this book up on my own, but I am SO glad you’ve reviewed it! ‘Going on the list. Great links and Nest looks great too. Thanks.

  22. I am digging that ominous film noir cover illustration.

    And any book where any animal outsmarts cats sound like something I would enjoy.

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