Children are introduced to emperor penguins, the largest of the penguin species, as readers follow a single emperor chick from his hatching to his first swim in the sea at five months of age.
As Little Emperor grows, readers learn how these birds survive the harsh cold of the Antarctic, how they communicate, how and what the chicks are fed and about the predator that Little Emperor faces when he finally reaches the sea. Children will also pick up a few facts about Antarctica. Keeping the focus on one penguin chick brings readers into his story and lends relevance to the facts that are presented in the text. But in so doing, readers miss out on one of the most fascinating aspects of emperor penguin parenthood—the amazing stamina and clever survival tactics of the males as they incubate the eggs through the freezing Antarctic winter. Blues, whites and purples dominate Olson’s artwork until the sun returns to the Antarctic, then rosy oranges and yellows take over. Rendered in pencils, watercolors and digital media, the penguins are softly realistic, and Olson keeps the focus on the family trio, blurring the rest of the penguins into the background.Not the most factual or fascinating book on the penguin shelf, still this offers a chick’s point of view, which may appeal to younger audiences. (Picture book. 4-8)