In this tale, published 63 years after its conception, Whiteblack, the Chief Storyteller for Penguinland's radio station, has run out of stories and decides that traveling will provide him with new material. "Readers will reach the last page wishing for a secret cache of sequels," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This buoyant book, as publisher Anita Silvey explains in an afterward, appears in print for the first time, 63 years after its conception by the Reys, who strapped it--along with Curious George--onto the back of a bicycle as they peddled out of Paris hours before the Nazi army's invasion. Whiteblack, the Chief Storyteller for Penguinland's radio station, has run out of stories. He decides that traveling will provide him with new material and takes off in a handmade canoe. Though the penguin runs into trouble, he maintains a chipper attitude. When he wrecks his boat on an iceberg, for instance, he wryly observes, "I hate to lose my boat but at least this is a story for my radio show. Besides, I've always wanted to be in an accident." His string of adventures not only provide him fodder for his program, but also fulfill a raft of other dreams (e.g., "Besides, I've always wanted to ride on a camel," he quips when offered a lift across the desert). As resourceful as he is resilient, Whiteblack, in a final heroic act, slips off a fishing boat, dragging behind him a net with "mountains of fish" for his pals; they erect a snow sculpture in his honor ("And since in Penguinland the snow never melts, the monument is still there. You can go yourself and see it"). Matching the droll pitch of the narrative, H.A. Rey's whimsical watercolors stylistically recall those that illustrate the Curious George oeuvre; a decidedly curious penguin, Whiteblack makes a most worthy companion for George. A preponderance of George's sunny yellow lights up many scenes, and the penguin apes human postures and emotions nearly as well as the famous chimp. Readers will reach the last page wishing for a secret cache of sequels. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"The plot is well crafted, and Whiteblack's adventures are appealingly silly, almost slapstick. . . . [A] treasure." —Booklist 11/01/00
What a treat to have another opportunity to enjoy the timeless collaboration of Margret and H. A. Rey. This is a gift from the storytellers our children grew up with in the antics of Curious George the monkey. The protagonist of this story is Whiteblack, the penguin who is the chief storyteller on the radio station for all of Penguinland. Whiteblack decides he has run out of interesting stories to tell. In order to gather more, he decides to take a trip, commenting to his friends, the seal and polar bear, "travelers always have lots of stories." He proceeds to entertain us with one adventure after another, be it getting shot out of a cannon on a ship or riding on a camel in the desert. The predicaments Whiteblack finds himself in turn out to lead to bigger and better tales along the way. Ultimately, he returns to his friends, loaded with gifts and stories to last a lifetime. The reader will recognize the style of the colorful, expressive characters in illustrations that practically fill every page. This book will find a welcome spot on a child's bookshelf next to the ageless monkey tales we have all come to treasure. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, $15.00. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Kathleen Orosz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-This previously unpublished picture book features a penguin who is the Chief Storyteller for the local radio station. When he runs out of tales to share with his listeners, he embarks on a journey, deciding that "Travelers always have lots of stories." After he heads out to sea, his boat hits an iceberg and sinks, but Whiteblack reacts optimistically: "-at least this is a story for my radio show. Besides, I've always wanted to be in an accident." One crazy adventure after another evolves in this fanciful tale, as the resourceful penguin meets all kinds of unusual creatures, including "those famous human beings he had heard so much about!" Finally, he returns to Penguinland, where he receives a hero's welcome. Although the wonderful watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Rey's work in Curious George (Houghton, 1973), the appeal of this story is not as universal. Many elements, such as the radio show and the images of sailors, are rather dated, and some of the humor may appeal more to adults than to children. Still, the simple and silly text unfolds in a manner that will engage young listeners. A publisher's note explains how this book was rediscovered.-Piper L. Nyman, Fairfield/Suisun Community Library, Fairfield, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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