cover image Penguin Problems

Penguin Problems

Lauren Myracle, illus. by Jed Henry. Dutton, $12.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-525-42264-8

Skillfully blending comedy and poignancy, Myracle begins the Life of Ty series (a spinoff of her Winnie Years books), which spotlights Winnie’s seven-year-old brother, Ty, as he grapples with growing pains and change. His mother is preoccupied by his new baby sister (leading to feelings of displacement), his best friend has leukemia, and Ty himself yo-yos between two unreliable friends at school. Ty’s self-effacing, good-natured narration reveals his ricocheting emotions and insecurities: he is fascinated by his old pacifiers and afraid to let peers see him cry, but he also reacts maturely when a preschooler wets his pants in the boys’ room. In the story’s climax, Ty wanders off during an aquarium field trip and winds up stealing a baby penguin, convinced it wants to go home with him (in one of Henry’s loosely drawn spot cartoons, Ty reacts in horror as the penguin pees on a bathmat). Smack-dab on target with her plotting, characterization, and dialogue, Myracle again demonstrates her versatility as she ventures into early chapter books. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Shannon Associates. (May)