The New York Times Book Review
There are plenty of arch asides that parents will enjoy in this droll little book…
Aesthetically, Latimer’s story recalls Oliver Jeffers’s The Great Paper Caper (2009), which also stars a crew of animals that walk upright on spindly legs in a snowy landscape. But Latimer (The Boy Who Cried Ninja) is more focused on simple whimsy in this encouraging, believe-in-yourself tale. Unable to find a skill worthy of the upcoming talent show, Penguin settles for helping organize it. When Penguin’s friends, eager to cheer him up, throw him a thank-you party, they make a hash of it (“thaks pemgin” reads Albatross’s banner), and Penguin discovers that his boring organizational abilities are, in fact, a talent. Lots of goofy interpolations add sauce to the story line as the contestants juggle blenders and toasters or swallow fish whole. “Is that the King of Norway?” Rabbit asks Bear, as a motivational speaker in a crown launches into an inspirational speech. “Ooh, yes,” says Bear, “I believe it is.” Though the story has a certain predictability, Latimer’s asides are quite funny, and the book is a standout in another category, too: not many picture books champion ordinary administrative skills. Ages 4�8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Have you ever been in a talent show? With the annual talent show just around the corner, everyone is practicing. But Penguin can't figure out what his talent is. He is not very good at baking, map reading, or knitting. So what is he good at? All Penguin can do is swallow a sardine and break a blender by throwing it up a tree. When Penguin tries doing a magic trick, he cannot bring back Rabbit's watch. So Penguin decides to help organize the talent show by making phone calls, sending emails, and drawing posters. To Penguin's delight, the talent show is terrific; everyone loves the opening ceremony which has fireworks, jets, and good music. The judges award medals of excellence to albatross, fox, and rabbit. Everyone has a medal except for Penguin who sadly walks home through the snow. But at the end of this magical story, Penguin discovers he is an excellent party planner, and he sets up shop with brand-new business cards. Young readers will enjoy this lovely book, which has a fun storyline and humorous illustrations. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Penguin's community is putting on a talent show that will include juggling, fish swallowing, magic, and, perhaps most importantly, burping the alphabet. But Penguin can't do any of these things. And as his friends continue to suggest ideas, it becomes apparent that he doesn't have any of the traditional talents, so he decides to help organize the show instead. It goes very smoothly and boasts such novelties as the King of Norway speaking on self-confidence, a famous band playing, and fireworks. After his friends try their hand at what Penguin has done so easily, they begin to realize his true talent-organizing events-and he is honored for his skills. The illustrations are clean and simple, with a cool-toned palette, and lots of humor packed into them. There is the toaster that Penguin attempts to juggle (but throws into a tree). Or the albatross hovering in midair after the show, with a gleaming medal around its neck. This is a fun book to read, but it also carries the message that not everyone has to be good at the same things. Sometimes you really need a penguin to plan the party.—Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ
Everybody has some kind of talent. The big talent show is just days away, and the animals are busy practicing. Bear juggles, Rabbit pulls himself out of a hat, and Fox burps like crazy. Penguin, though, just sits at home, thinking. He doesn't know what his talent is, and he doubts that he has one. Instead of performing, he decides to help organize the event, so he can be involved. The show goes off like gangbusters, with the king of Norway delivering an inspiring opening address. Bear takes home the trophy, several medals are awarded, and a great time is had by all. But the talentless Penguin avoids the after-party, trudging home in the snow. His friends worry about him, so they work late into the night to put together an appreciation party. Truth to tell, it's not much of a celebration, with tacky decorations, misspelled signs and bland food. When Rabbit declares that this party would be so much better if Penguin had organized it, Penguin has a revelation...his talent is party planning! Latimer's offbeat illustrations--stylized pencil drawings, digitized and then finished with color and texture--are delightfully droll. And he tucks many deadpan jokes into the story (the king's pie chart indicates the proportional ingredients of a pie, for instance). Quirky, with a side of self-esteem. (Picture book. 4-7)