Reviews /

Well Done, Mummy Penguin

Authored by Chris Haughton
Illustrated by Chris Haughton
Published by Walker Books

Tagged , , , , , ,

Mummy Penguin is going out and leaving Daddy Penguin and Little Penguin, but where is she going, and will she return? In this simple and joyous story, Daddy Penguin takes on the role of looking after Little Penguin while courageous Mummy Penguin hunts for dinner. But her task is not without its dangers, all watched by Little Penguin and Daddy Penguin. This is a simple narrative, reminiscent of classics like Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Martin Waddell’s Owl Babies and the more recent Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max. The ending is wonderful, a question which suggests that Mummy Penguin’s work is not yet done.

Chris Haughton’s illustrations are distinctive. He uses a strong but limited colour palette to portray the Arctic environment and vivid, warm colours for the penguins. This is reinforced by the typeface. Although simplistic in style, the illustrations convey the characters’ range of emotions: anxiety, uncertainty, fright, relief, joy and above all love. The dangers of Mummy Penguin’s adventure are demonstrated through the use of perspective and frames. Many images of Little Penguin and Daddy Penguin are frameless with large amounts of white space, encouraging the reader to consider their relationship and Little Penguin’s feelings.

The endpapers of this book break with Chris Haughton’s normal style – silhouetted figures against an atmospheric landscape, and these invite prediction and discussion between adults and children.

The present tense adds pace to the story. This is a repetitive and patterned text supporting young readers to join in with the reading. Onomatopoeic words and lively verbs add to the action and Mummy Penguin’s bravery. Well Done, Mummy Penguin is humorous and deals with familiar themes: family and the heroes within them, unconditional love and simple joy.

This is a book to share with young children – to enjoy. I have no doubt that readers will want to revisit this playful story, again and again, to join in with the repeated refrains and actions. It is a gift for any Early Years Setting or bedtime story routine. I loved it!