Thursday, August 6, 2020

Review - The Old Man and the Penguin

The Old Man and the Penguin: A True Story of True Friendship
by Julie Abery
illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Date: 2020
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book non-fiction
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Told in rhyming verse, this is the touching true story of an oil-soaked penguin, the man who rescues him and an unlikely friendship.

João hears "a sorry screech" as he walks along the shore near his home. It's from a penguin, whose feathers are soaked in oil.

Barely moving on the sand,
too tired to swim, too weak to stand ...
João must save this little guy.
Without his help, he'll surely die.

João takes the penguin home. He cleans him, feeds him and nurses him slowly back to health --- and the pair develop a special bond. When the penguin is fully recovered, João knows it's time to return him to the wild where he belongs. But the penguin has other ideas ...

Told in rhyming verse, this heartwarming picture book tells the true story of João Pereira de Souza of Brazil, who cared for a Magellanic penguin that had been caught in an oil spill. When João tried to release him back to the wild, the penguin returned to João's home and stayed for months. The penguin, named Dindim by João, did eventually leave, but he now returns to visit his friend for five months of every year. A charming read-aloud showcasing a tender relationship between an animal and human, this book also promotes environmental awareness and stewardship, and explains how human activities often threaten wildlife. Author Julie Abery includes information about João and the penguin, how wildlife is affected by oil spills every year, and what to do if you find wildlife in distress. The lively art by award-winning Pierre Pratt brings a touching sweetness and emotional depth to the story. There are character education lessons here on empathy, kindness and caring.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a cute, true story of a Magellanic penguin who befriends an old man in Brazil after he rescues him from an oil slick. Returning every year, the penguin develops a bond with João.

I enjoy reading true stories like this. The Old Man and the Penguin is written in rhyming verse that's actually quite strong. Colourful pictures depict the growing bond between man and bird. (A woman that appears to be João's wife appears in some of the illustrations. I wonder how she felt about her husband's avian friend!)

This is a good choice for readers who like picture books based on true stories. The environmental message here is subtle, but could provide a good starting point for more in-depth discussions about oil spills and wildlife. (An author's note at the back provides a bit more information about this, too.)

Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.71 out of 5

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