Boy and Antarctic bird bond in a tongue-in-cheek tale keyed by artful misdirection.
Drawn to an aquarium’s penguin exhibit because the birds resemble his own tuxedo-wearing self, young Elliot secures permission from his (seemingly) distracted single dad to get a penguin. Rather than hit the gift shop, though, he pops a live one he dubs “Magellan” into his backpack. Using a hose, a backyard wading pool and an overpowered air conditioner, he sets up a rink in his bedroom. He stashes his diminutive new buddy amid frozen seafood in the fridge overnight, then leaves him splashing around in a tub of extra-cold water the next day. Crisis looms when Elliot’s still strangely oblivious father heads for the bathroom—but, as observers sharp enough to have picked up some subtle visual clues will understand, Magellan isn’t the only exotic animal in the house, and the old man has good reason to be more surprised than shocked to find himself sharing the tub with an interloper. In line with Buzzeo’s elegantly spare text, Small uses neutral washes with loosely drawn lines and highlights of restrained color to depict the urbane lad and his equally dapper companion making themselves comfortably at home in upper-crust digs.
A happy tale of domestic amity, with a well-set-up punchline. (Picture book. 6-8)