cover image Penguin and the Cupcake

Penguin and the Cupcake

Ashley Spires, Author . Simply Read $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-89

Inspired by the felt animal finger puppets Spires creates, this illustrator’s (The Red Shoes ) quirky authorial debut tells of an Antarctic resident who wearies of his fish diet. Tempted by news that creatures in the northern hemisphere lead “the good life eating cupcakes,” Penguin sets out to sample this treat. But when he flies off under his own power, Walrus and Polar Bear pop out from behind the page (“Stop right there!”) and inform the bird that penguins can’t fly. The story resumes, with an airplane transporting Penguin to the Arctic; there he again encounters Walrus and Polar Bear—but no cupcakes (he finally gets some on the flight home). If not especially memorable, Spires’s slightly wooden cartoon characters have personality. Adults and kids alike should be amused by the meta-narratives, as well as sidebar notes that “correct” the characters’ occasional misinformation (after Walrus claims to be on a “strict kelp” diet: “Walruses don’t eat kelp.... Unfortunately this walrus has self-esteem issues. She was trying to meet an unrealistic physical ideal”). A humorous story, but like the confection Penguin craves, light in substance. Ages 3–7. (May)