TINA AND THE PENGUIN
Heather Dyer, , illus. by Mireille Levert. . Kids Can, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55074-947-2
Levert's (the Molly Bear series) sly illustrations provide much of the humor in first-timer Dyer's story of a girl who harbors a runaway penguin for a couple of nerve-wracking days. On Tina's class trip to the zoo, a penguin throws himself at her feet. She smuggles him out dressed in her coat and her pink beret. Levert's gouache illustration shows Tina on the bus talking to her girlfriend, oblivious both to ugly plastic insects held out by marauding boys and to the penguin, mute and goggle-eyed beside them. Tina spends the rest of her time trying to make the penguin comfortable in her room while evading her mother's questions about the new "stuffed toy" on her bed ("Oh, that penguin. I got him at the zoo"). She feeds him sardines and sleeps with the window open, but when she finds him standing in the refrigerator and has to pick his feathers out of the jam, she admits, "I don't think this is working out." The next morning, the penguin disappears. However, a television special about Antarctica gives her a glimpse of a penguin in a pink beret. The tale doesn't provide all the satisfactions of typical alien-hidden-in-the-bedroom stories; Tina never has much fun with her penguin nor does she get a chance to display much heroism once she helps him flee from the zoo. But Levert's whimsical illustrations make up the deficit. Ages 5-8.
Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-55337-767-2