cover image The Emperor's Egg

The Emperor's Egg

Martin Jenkins. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0557-5

After Chapman (One Duck Stuck) lures readers with an irresistible cover image of a baby emperor penguin, the author documents the unusual role of the father in the birthing of this winning subject. Emperor penguins make their home in Antarctica, ""the coldest, windiest place on Earth."" During the region's chilliest season, a female penguin lays one egg and leaves her mate to incubate it; he rests the egg atop his feet, so that his feathery white belly keeps it toasty. ""What's more, there's nothing for the father penguin to eat on land.... So that means two whole months with an egg on your feet and no dinner!"" Chapman provides naturalistic acrylics of the frozen environment, against cold violet or warm orange backdrops. The blue-white ice and sky offset the charcoal feathers and buttercup-yellow breasts of the birds. Jenkins presents abundant penguin facts in the same conversational voice of Chameleons Are Cool but without the child narrator he used to such strong effect. Yet he achieves a similar tone, for instance, while speculating that the male penguin must be ""very, very miserable"" as it awaits the egg's hatching and the mother bird's return. Together with artwork that balances realistic details with the penguins' implicit charm, Jenkins's lively text will attract many readers to this tale of one of nature's unique parenting arrangements. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)