Melissa Guion’s Baby Penguins Everywhere offers a lovely way for parents to talk to children (probably about 3-5 years) about why mothers (and everyone else) sometimes need time alone. Guion’s illustrations are bright, cheerful, funny, and full of energy: baby penguins leap from a magician’s hat and run amok playing various games (tug-of-war with a magicians scarf, juggling, skipping rope, climbing to the top of mama penguin’s head, etc) and generally causing chaos. The pictures convey the hectic busyness of the mama penguin, making it clear why she needs some time to herself.
The book is engaging, with the illustrations of the recto side of the pages prompting questions in its young readers (“where is the mummy going?”) only to answer those questions on the verso (“off by herself for a little while”). It also conveys the mother’s feelings (of being tired and overwhelmed) very very clearly, in ways that children can probably learn to recognise in their own parents. But the book is also very gentle in its message — despite her need for space sometimes, mama clearly loves her newfound charges, and though she goes away to rest when she gets tired, she returns quite soon, ready to play with the baby penguins again.
10 October 2014
Guion, Melissa. Baby Penguins Everywhere. New York: Philomel Books, 2012.