Meet the Penguins by Mike Brownlow sees two penguin pals eager to find someone to play with but every animal they meet turns them down until finally, a little bear asks them if she can play, which is met with lots of enthusiasm by the penguins and lots of fun and games together. It ends with everyone they met watching and asking to join in.
This is a classic simple repetition text accompanied by colourful illustrations with ‘Please can we play? opening every double-page spread and each animal asked giving a different reason why they can’t play. It is a great book to open up a discussion about making friends, welcoming new people, and how not being friendly can make us feel. And of course, children will want to join in with the question asking on each page, so it’s a great whole class read too. I think an effective way to use this book after reading is to ask children to think of alternative responses from the animals, saying yes to playing and giving a reason why.
I always look for opportunities for extending the discussion and Meet the Penguins offers it to you at the end when the animals all ask if they can play and we are left with the penguins thinking about it. Perfect for children to offer what the answers could be and what they consider the best response would be. This picturebook is an ideal book to have in the classroom to explore themes of including others and sharing how being friendly might encourage more friendships, which can only be a good thing in the world.
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