Penguin and Pinecone
Written and illustrated by Salina Yoon
Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books, $12.99, Ages 3 and up Brief Synopsis: When a tiny penguin in a vast snowy flatland discovers an unfamiliar object, he investigates it thoroughly. It is too brown to be a snowball, too crunchy to be food, and too prickly to be an egg. When it shivers and utters “Brrr!” the tenderhearted Penguin quickly knits up a cozy orange scarf just like his own to keep his new friend warm.
Penguin and Pinecone become the best of friends, sledding (“Whoosh!”) and playing (“Wheee!”) and swimming (“Achoo!”). The sneeze worries Penguin. Is Pinecone sick? When Penguin learns that his bristly buddy belongs in a forest, they embark on an journey to bring Pinecone home. Penguin builds a soft pine needle nest for his friend, encircles him in a heart-shaped ring of stones, and spells out a special message in branches before saying goodbye.
As the years pass, Penguin thinks of Pinecone often, wondering if his friend has indeed grown big and strong. In my favorite passage from the book, Penguin imagines being engulfed in the strong embrace of an enormous, larger than life Pinecone.
Yoon’s illustrations are thickly outlined yet crisp, and her simple but deep color palette works beautifully. A nice mix of single plane, double spread and montage images pace the storyline perfectly through an interesting mix of perspectives. I especially love a full page spread of a scarf-swathed pinecone, as contrasted with a tiny Penguin approaching the large evergreen forest. Best of all, the simple yet precise text rings true with child-like emotion. “Penguin and Pinecone may have been far apart, but they always stayed in each other’s hearts.”
Links To Resources:
Make an origami penguin
Try this fun penguin balloon craft
Stage a penguin and pinecone puppet show after creating paper bag penguin puppets
Don’t miss Joanna Marple’s marvelous interview with Salina Yoon here
Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Susanna maintains a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all reviews with new books being added every Friday. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for book activities or books with a particular theme.
Portions of this review first appeared in the February 2015 issue of North Shore Children & Families. Read your copy online here!