Foreword Review — Sept / Oct 2000
Each of these two squat schoolbooks presents a typical kindergarten problem.
On Penguin’s first day of school, he won’t let anyone else have a turn on the slide. “‘It’s
not fair!’ said Warthog. ‘You’ve had eighty-six turns!’” In the second title, another child, Parrot, talks too much, even when the teacher’s trying to tell a story.
When Penguin’s classmates ask for help, the teacher, an ostrich, is busy—she has her head buried in a box—so they must sort it out themselves. In a surprising, laugh out loud twist, Crocodile takes it upon himself to do just that. He lies down at the bottom of the slide, mouth open wide, thereby swallowing Penguin whole. As the other animal students stand around laughing, teacher arrives.”‘Take that Penguin out of your mouth at once!” said the teacher.’ Penguin now graciously allows Crocodile the next turn.
The solution to Parrot’s problem is not nearly as much fun. Elephant has brought a bag of his mother’s cooking to show-and-tell. After Parrot piggishly helps himself to a beakful it’s discovered that they are very, very sticky toffees. “And, for once, Parrot didn’t say a word.” The humorous extension here comes from the illustration. As Parrot sits silently on the floor, reader’s can see his parent out the window, gabbing away with a group of other adults.
The style of illustration contributes to the informal presentation of these two titles. A
jaunty, angular line provides personality to the numerous animal characters. They are simple and cartoony, as if a child had designed them.
Due to size, these small, square book could easily get lost on a shelf. Yet, while their characters are occasionally annoying, their subject matter will be meaningful to children who deal with such selfish behaviors on a day-to-day basis.