Pierre the Penguin

QL696.S473 M365 2010 Q is science, QL is zoology, QL 671-699 is birds, QL 696 is Birds- systematic divisions by order and family A-Z , and QL696.S473 is Spheniscidae (Penguins).  M365 2010 is the cutter which allows books to be alphabetized by author and year within this subject.  Pierre the Penguin won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award (2010) and the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Gold Award (2010).

Author: Jean Marzollo
Illustrator: Laura Regan
1585364851 ISBN-13: 978-1585364855
City and Publisher: Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press
Copyright Date: 2010
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: Pierre the penguin is in a real pickle as he begins losing feathers.  He can’t enjoy a good swim and the other penguins have started teasing him.  Can Pam the aquatic biologist think of a way to help him?

Plot Summary: This is the true story of Pierre the Penguin, who lives at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  Pierre is stressed out, and begins losing his feathers.  He can’t swim, can’t keep his weight up, and is being teased by the other penguins.  So he gets more stressed and loses more feathers!  Pam, the aquatic biologist who takes care of the penguins, must find a way to help Pierre get better.

Critical Evaluation: Pierre the penguin is told in rhyme.  The story is sweet, but not saccharin.  Marzollo uses words very well, crafting a clear yet complex story.  Pierre also sneaks some wonderful lessons about disability and assistive technology; Pierr’e’s feather loss impairs one or more life activities and causes him to be the target of penguin prejudice and bullying.  His wetsuit allows him to once again participate in important penguin activities such as swimming.

Illustrations: Regan’s illustrations  of Pierre and the other penguins strike a great balance between realism and emotional expression.  Pierre’s feelings are accessible, but he remains an animal rather than a human.  The colors are somewhat muted, and the lines are soft.  However, they are not sentimental, dreamy, or in any way cloying.

Reading Level/Interest: All Ages
Curriculum Ties: Penguins, Adaptation, Disability, Scientists and the Scientific method
Booktalking Ideas:
Show the Academy of Science’s Penguin Cam.  Ask if any one knows where penguins live.  Wear a wetsuit to class.

About the Author: Jean Marzollo is the author of the I SPY series (also written in rhyme) and over 130 books for children.  She  was born in Connecticut and holds a graduate degree from  the Harvard School of Education.  She is married to a sculptor and they have two sons.  More at http://www.jeanmarzollo.com/bio.html


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