An adorable penguin learns to conquer his fears by practicing deep breathing in this picture book debut by Nutley. Pengwee, a young penguin chick, is excited to attend the annual Ice Festival with his mother, and he loves everything about it, with the exception of the “big scary rides'' that make him feel like “there’s a snowstorm in my tummy and clouds in my head.” When he shares his uneasiness with his mother, she teaches him how to use deep breathing to calm the storm inside, and Pengwee gets a chance to put his skills to the test when he faces the scariest ride of them all–the Ice Monster.
Young readers will delight in Pengwee, who is lovably innocent as he tries to master the art of deep breathing. His first attempt at a “Superpower Breath” comes out with such power he nearly knocks over his mother, but it doesn’t take him long to learn the ropes, and soon he is able to defeat even seemingly insurmountable fears. The Ice Festival is also irresistible–a winter-themed extravaganza of carnival games, entertainment, and tempting penguin snacks, like the “imported fried smelt” or “whale blubber cones.” Alexandra Rusu’s whimsical watercolor illustrations add a dreamlike feel, with subtle lines and cool shades that match the story’s midwinter motif.
Nutley offers a sliver of suspense alongside the charm by embracing thrill rides that can be intimidating to so many kids. Once Pengwee learns to put his emotional calming talents to use, the Ice Monster is transformed in his eyes from terrifying to exhilarating–a concept notably important to Nutley, who is a certified meditation instructor with a fondness for teaching mindfulness to youth. Adult readers will appreciate the introduction to self-soothing, and this engaging story adeptly captures the intensity of childhood fears–and the skills to handle them.
Takeaway: A young penguin learns–and shows readers–how deep breathing can help overcome fears.
Great for fans of: Rachel Bright’s The Lion Inside, Gaia Cornwall’s Jabari Jumps.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: A Illustrations: A Editing: A Marketing copy: B
An anxious young penguin uses calming techniques in Nutley’s picture book.
On the way to the Ice Festival, Pengwee tells his mom he’s afraid of frightening rides. “Just thinking about scary things makes me feel bad.” Mom suggests he take a “Superpower Breath” to combat the anxiety. She instructs him to inhale “through your nose. Then slowly, like a gentle breeze, let it flow out through your mouth.” The practice soothes Pengwee, who also imagines himself “wearing a superhero cape.” At the festival, Pengwee and his friend Ruby enjoy familiar rides and games. But when Ruby suggests they ride the Ice Monster, “a frightful beast with massive claws that could crush a penguin!” Pengwee hesitates. After a “snowstorm began swirling inside,” he practices his “Superpower Breath” and notes physical sensations, like how his tummy rises when he inhales. Eventually, “the snowstorm inside…began to drift away.” Pengwee joins Ruby on the Ice Monster and has tons of fun. Pengwee says, “There’s not a monster in the world that’s mightier than my breath!” This sweet, thoughtful tale exemplifies, in kid-friendly terms, how mindful breathing is helpful and empowering, particularly during stressful moments. Rusu’s lovely, soft illustrations depict peaceful snowscapes and charming scenes with swirling pastel hues and wintry elements.
A delightful, gentle adventure about meditative, mindful breathing.