A horned puffin hatches, grows and flies for the first time on the Alaskan coast.
London’s characteristically lyrical, clipped free verse describes the meeting of two puffins, followed by nesting, tending their single egg and the hatching of their “hungry gray fuzz-ball.” Taking turns to guard the chick and hunt, Mother and Father Puffin raise Little Puffin to fledging. One night, spectacularly foregrounded against the rising moon by Van Zyle in three successive spreads, Little Puffin makes his way to the edge of the cliff and then jumps, first falling and then flying—to find his own mate four years later. With the exception of naming his puffin family, London largely avoids anthropomorphizing his subjects even as he uses figurative language his preschool audience will understand: “Dressed in her life jacket / of carefully fluffed feathers, / Mother Puffin bobs like a cork / in the icy cold ocean.” Scientific facts (puffins have heavy bones; their predators include gulls) are woven neatly into the brief, just-dramatic-enough narrative. Van Zyle keeps his palette realistically limited to cold grays and blues except for that tremendous yellow moon and the puffins’ beaks, relying on shifts in perspective and scale to maintain visual interest. In one humorous image, three herrings droop comically from Father Puffin’s beak. A two-page author’s note provides further information.
A bracing nature adventure for animal-loving preschoolers. (Informational picture book. 2-6)