Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World

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Whiteblack the Penguin is worried. He has run out of stories for his radio show, a dire situation for the Chief Storyteller of Penguinland. So Whiteblack decides to travel in search of new tales to share. The result is a journey that spans the globe and not only introduces the precocious penguin to a host of colorful characters but teaches him about the power of friendship and what it means to be a hero. Originally created in 1937, while the Reys lived in Paris, this delightful story is being published for the ...
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Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World

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Overview


Whiteblack the Penguin is worried. He has run out of stories for his radio show, a dire situation for the Chief Storyteller of Penguinland. So Whiteblack decides to travel in search of new tales to share. The result is a journey that spans the globe and not only introduces the precocious penguin to a host of colorful characters but teaches him about the power of friendship and what it means to be a hero. Originally created in 1937, while the Reys lived in Paris, this delightful story is being published for the first time, and is sure to enchant readers young and old. From the creators of Curious George, Whiteblack the Penguin Sees The World is a timeless tale with all the hilarity and childlike sense of adventure characteristic of the Reys’ previous work.

In search of new stories for his radio program, Whiteblack the penguin sets out on a journey and has some interesting adventures.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After reading Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World, you'll want to adopt this penguin's positive attitude. As Chief Storyteller of Penguinland, Whiteblack should have many stories to tell -- but he's run out of them. Concluding that traveling the world will give him more stories, Whiteblack takes off in his handmade canoe. But like many well-planned trips, things go wrong. Crashing his boat into an iceberg would anger and frustrate any penguin (and probably any human!), but Whiteblack just sees it as more material for his stories. The trip is more than just a bunch of mishaps. He gets to ride a camel across the desert and at the end of the story, he becomes a hero. Slipping off a boat, he drags a net in the ocean, gathering fish for all his friends. They build a monument in his honor in the heart of Penguinland.

This is the first publication of the story since its conception in 1937. Whiteblack the Penguin is one of the characters H. A. Rey created at the same time as Curious George in 1937. It's easy to see the resemblance in the dry sense of humor and unfaltering curiosity and drive for adventure of both characters. Rey paints this book in watercolors with a whimsical edge, much like Rey's famous inquisitive monkey. Fans of Curious George, both children and adults, will adore the story of this waddling companion.

From the Publisher

"A decidedly curious penguin, Whiteblack makes a most worthy companion for George. . . . Readers will reach the last page wishing for a secret cache of sequels." —Publishers Weekly, starred review(7/31/00) Publishers Weekly, Starred

"One crazy adventure after another evolves in this fanciful tale, as the resourceful penguin meets all kinds of unusual creatures." —School Library Jounal 12/00 School Library Journal

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller Publishers Weekly

"The plot is well crafted, and Whiteblack's adventures are appealingly silly, almost slapstick. . . . [A] treasure." —Booklist 11/01/00 Booklist, ALA

Publishers Weekly
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.
Children's Literature
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618073894
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

H. A. and Margret Rey

The Reys were born in Hamburg, Germany. Hans Augusto Rey (1898-1977) met his wife-to-be, Margret (1906-1996), at a party in her father’s home in Germany; when he first caught a glimpse of her, she was sliding down the banister. In their twenties and thirties they lived in Paris and in Rio de Janeiro, where Hans sold bathtubs in villages along the Amazon River. Eventually Cambridge, Massachusetts, became the Reys’ home and community. Throughout their lives the Reys created many lively books together, including SPOTTY, PRETZEL, and lift-the-flap books such as HOW DO YOU GET THERE? The manuscript of the first Curious George books was one of the few items the Reys carried with them on their bicycles when they escaped from Paris in 1940. Eventually, they made their way to the United States, and CURIOUS GEORGE was published in 1941. Their incorrigible little monkey has become an American icon, selling millions of books and capturing the hearts of readers everywhere. CURIOUS GEORGE has been published in many languages, including French, German, Japanese, Afrikaans, and Norwegian. Additional Curious George books followed, as well as such other favorites as CECILY G. AND THE NINE MONKEYS and FIND THE CONSTELLATIONS.

Biography

In their nearly 40-year-long professional collaboration, the husband-and-wife team of Margret and H. A. Rey created one of the most memorable figures in 20th-century children’s literature: Curious George, the little monkey with an insatiable appetite for adventure.

The Reys, like George, had tremendous zest for travel and new experience. Both were born in Germany, H. A. (Hans Augusto) in 1898, and Margret (Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein) in 1906. Although the two became acquainted in their homeland, they fell in love after each moved to Rio de Janeiro, where they married in 1935. Their honeymoon led them to Paris, where Hans published his first book for children, Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, introducing Curious George as a peripheral character.

In 1940 the Reys, both of whom were Jewish, fled Paris as the Nazis mounted their invasion of the city, making their way by bicycle to Spain, by train to Lisbon, then to Brazil, New York City, and finally Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they made their home. The few belongings they carried with them from Europe included the manuscript of Curious George, which Houghton Mifflin published in 1941. Together they created six more classic Curious George adventures: Curious George Flies a Kite, Curious George Gets a Medal, Curious George Learns the Alphabet, Curious George Goes to the Hospital, Curious George Rides a Bike, and Curious George Takes a Job.

Like Babar, Bambi, Pippi Longstocking, and countless other children’s book characters, George is, for all purposes, an orphan, one who was separated from his family. (He was kidnapped, in fact, by The Man with the Yellow Hat, who has gained his own degree of fame through the series.) Admonished to stay home and be good, George invariably lets his curiosity get the better of him and winds up in some kind of trouble every time: in jail, on a runaway cow, kidnapped by circus promoters, or in the hospital. In a possible nod to the Reys’s own hair-raising escape from the Nazis, every story involves an antic chase scene. And every story ends in a happy reunion with the man with the yellow hat, who is George’s trainer, keeper, teacher, disciplinarian, and parental figure.

According to their publisher, the Reys were not just a writer/designer team. Although Hans was primarily focused on ideas and illustrations, and Margret on writing, their work often overlapped. The result was pure magic. The Curious George books transcend time and space, driven by a sincere understanding of the forces that propel children: curiosity, resourcefulness, and love of home.

Good To Know

H. A. Rey also independently produced a series of astronomy books (including Find the Constellations), and Margret wrote Pretzel, about a dachshund, and Spotty, about a rabbit, with H. A. Rey’s illustrations. They lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts until their deaths, H. A. Rey’s in 1977 and Margret Rey’s in 1996.

Margret's name does not appear on some of the earlier Curious George collaborations because, she said, "When we first came to America our publisher suggested we use my husband's name because the children's book field was so dominated by women. They thought it would sell better. After a time I thought 'why the devil did I do that?' So since then my name has appeared also."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Hans Augusto Rey and Margarete Elisabeth Waldstein (full names)
    1. Place of Death:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts; Margret died in 1996, H.A. in 1977

Read an Excerpt


A New York Times Bestseller
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2000

    A New Classic

    This book will join the ranks of children's classics. The simple story and delightful illustrations will be enjoyed by children of all ages for years to come.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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