Little Benguin

Estelle Billon Spagnol, trans. from the French by Grace Maccarone. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2934-9
Originally published in France in 2011, Spagnol's U.S. debut introduces a penguin-rabbit hybrid who is an outcast because he's "unusual." The product of a whirlwind romance (the opening scene shows a blushing penguin and rabbit gazing at each other over a martini glass with two straws), Little Benguin has "Long ears like a bunny. Flippers like a penguin." While Little Benguin is generally at ease in his own skin/fur/feathers, the other animals shun him. "I can't look at those big ears!" sobs a penguin. "Don't play with him," a mother rabbit tells her children. "He has flippers." The arrival of a threatening wolf lets Little Penguin save the day, changing public opinion. Spagnol sets her crayony illustrations against white backdrops, emphasizing the characters' emotions; she's especially good at narrowed eyes, using them to convey the prejudice of Little Benguin's neighbors, the wolf's viciousness, and Little Penguin's determination as he outruns and outswims the predator. The only drawback: the underlying message that it's up to those who are perceived as different to prove their worth to the "normal" masses. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-8234-3095-6
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