“I'm climbing up!” said Fluff.
“I'm climbing up!” said Billy.
“I'm sliding down!” said Fluff.
“I'm sliding down!” said Billy.
Meet Fluff and Billy, two of the most irresistible, adorable penguins ever. They're best friends, and whatever Fluff does, little Billy does too: climb, slide, swim, splash, run, and jump. Together, they have fun in their enchanting polar world--until something happens that rocks their friendship.
Children--and parents too--will instantly recognize and relate to this familiar situation, and rejoice in how the penguin pals resolve their conflict.
In Killen's (Not Me!) sophomore picture book, it's all fun and games until someone gets nailed in the chest with a snowball. Although the eponymous penguins could just as easily be friends as relatives, it's hard not to see their relationship as that of older and younger siblings, with smaller Billy, distinguished by a splash of yellow, mimicking Fluff's every action as they cavort on the ice. "‘I'm climbing up!' said Fluff. ‘I'm climbing up!' said Billy. ‘I'm sliding down!' said Fluff, ‘I'm sliding down!' said Billy." When an overexcited Billy takes things too far ("‘I'm rolling a snowball!' said Fluff. ‘I'm throwing a snowball!' said Billy"), a rift forms between the two, though it's nothing a few good-intentioned tickles can't solve. Killen's watercolors create a pared-down Antarctic landscape defined by judicious use of pale blue—splotches of paint suggest water droplets and snow, zigzags hint at far-off mountains, and halftone-style dots create shadows beneath Fluff and Billy's webbed feet and bulky bodies. Her beaky penguins are adorably childlike in their interactions, movements, and enthusiasm in this sweetly simple story. Ages 3–6. (Sept.)
In a bit of elemental relationship-modeling, two active young penguins play together until a short-lived huff brings a temporary halt to the fun. Echoing the pattern in Mirra Ginsburg's Chick and the Duckling (1972), where Fluff leads (" ‘I'm sliding down!' said Fluff"), Billy follows (" ‘I'm sliding down!' said Billy"). The pattern breaks when Billy throws a snowball that clobbers Fluff and results in a silent, back-to-back standoff. Being different in size and coloration, the two playmates are easy to tell apart, but Killen (Not Me!, 2010) leaves both their gender and their relationship (they could be either sibs or friends from different families) indeterminate. The two chicks cavort against Antarctic-white and icy blue backgrounds, her watercolors deliciously liquid in the swimming and splashing scenes. Spotting a tear in Billy's eye, the larger Fluff finally plays peacemaker with a tummy tickle that dissolves into an entire closing spread of big HA HAs and HEE HEEs. A little forced at the end, but young children will recognize the issue and require no encouragement to chime in with Billy's lines. (Picture book. 3-6)
Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)
Meet the Author
Nicola Killen completed a degree in graphic design and began her career creating handmade cards. After working for a number of years in design studios, Nicola graduated from the Cambridge School of Art with an MA in Children's Book Illustration and won Egmont Publishing's Best New Talent Award in 2007. Her first children's book, Not Me!, was published in 2010. Fluff and Billy is her second picture book. Nicola lives in Cambridge, England.