As the title implies, a counting book set at the zoo.
Starting with “ten playful penguins, living in the zoo,” forced rhymes count down in reverse as the penguins meet zoo animals: elephants, chimps, hippos, a bear, parrots, pandas, seals, and a zebra (unnamed but described as “stripy”). With each encounter, one stays to play with that animal. The penguins meet only eight animals, which may confuse some readers, as one remains in the rookery in order to prepare a feast because “she’s so good and kind!” (Really, the one who cooks is female?) The penguins are cute—raised plastic forms peeking through die-cut windows—but the slight story and cartoonish illustrations are trying too hard to match their appeal. The pictures add little new information, and the text attributes human characteristics to several of the animals. (Hippos don't take bubble baths.) The second couplet on each spread, “ ‘Penguins, stay and have some fun.’ / ‘Yes, please!’ says another one,” is meant to provide a predictable refrain but is wordy for young children and scans poorly for adults who must read this to them. The last page has the best illustrations, though why the penguins now sport hats and drink from stemware is unclear. Adding to the book’s woes, Arabic numerals are nowhere to be found.
Leave these penguins on the ice. (Board book. 2-4)