A clever spin on coming-of-age adventures with Antarctic appeal.




A brave baby penguin joins the U.S. Coast Guard in this fanciful celebration of the military branch from team Meyers and Van Keirsbilck (The Legend of Objee, 2013).

A mother and father penguin are proud of their son-to-be, still inside his egg. When the adorably puffy penguin chick hatches (in a painting by Van Keirsbilck sure to make readers say “Awww!”), he begins to develop a strong sense of adventure. Warned to stay away from Seal Rock, the baby penguin is sure he can outswim any old seal. When he dares to try it, his worried mother races to the water only to find her son proud of his own accomplishments. Soon, baby penguin is off on another adventure: mountain climbing. From atop the mountain, he discovers the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind, and though he’s initially frightened, he soon warms up to the crew, listening to their stories of brave rescues. When baby penguin eventually returns home, he learns his parents went up the mountain to find him, and now they need a rescue! Leading the penguin team and joined by his brave Coast Guard shipmates, he rescues his parents and leaves home to join further Coast Guard rescues. Meyers’ text is dense, with challenging vocabulary words for emerging readers (“tobogganed,” “gang plank”), but Van Keirsbilck’s penguin paintings will entice animal lovers, and his mixed painted and drawn images of the Coast Guard may inspire interest in that organization.

A clever spin on coming-of-age adventures with Antarctic appeal.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 29

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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