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*My Penguin Osbert in Love* by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis
 
Also by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis:

Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit
My Penguin Osbert in Love
by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis
Ages 4-8 48 pages Walker Books February 2009 Hardcover    

Joe couldn't be more surprised to find his friend Osbert knocking at his front door ó AWOL from the zoo ó with an invitation to a South Pole extravaganza under his wing. Since penguins can't fly, and Joe has a helicopter from Santa, the boy is soon piloting a bunch of penguins on a long journey south. But when Osbert ignores the Southern Lights and only has eyes for a penguin named Aurora, Joe starts to worry. Will he ever get back in time for his own family's mid-winter bash?

I read My Penguin Osbert in December to my reading groups and they loved it. Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was another Osbert book coming out just in time for Valentine's Day. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel once again takes the cute lovable penguin Osbert and his buddy Joe on an unforgettable adventure.

Joe is always asking Santa for elaborate gifts for Christmas. That's how he got Osbert and his new helicopter. Osbert has been at the zoo, but he comes to Joe for help in getting him and his friends to the South Pole for an Extravaganza. Joe can't possibly say no to Osbert.

Kimmel uses some form of this quote throughout the book, and it helps to tie everything together: "But Osbert was my friend. And he wanted me to help him get to the South Pole." Joe has to help, as long as heís back in time for his mother's midwinter bash. Will he make it?

Joe and Osbert are both lovable characters. Joe shows children the importance of always trying to help your friends, no matter what, with his staunch loyalty to Osbert.

Kimmel writes a story for 4-8 year olds that they will ask to read again and again because of the friendship theme. Yes, Osbert falls in love, which is sometimes a taboo word for young children - it makes them go "ew!" But kids will see past that and enjoy this story for what it is: a good story. Older children will enjoy it as well, as I've experienced with My Penguin Osbert.

H.B. Lewisís use of watercolors, pastels, and digital renderings really bring Osbert and the rest of the characters in the story to life. The colors are somewhat muted to depict the cold, but children will be attracted to them just the same as they are still vivid and rich. My personal favorite illustration: when Joe and the penguins are set to land in the South Pole. Lewis uses blue and pinks to create a magical picture.

Children will love this story, not only at Valentine's time but throughout the year. Itís one for teachers to add to a collection of friendship or Valentine- themed books.
 


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