I picked up 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental, at the MoMA store on saturday and found myself laughing out loud while reading it to our little Ella.
This hilarious, oversize picture book integrates challenging math concepts and environmental concerns into a clever narrative. On New Year’s Day, a family receives an anonymous package containing a penguin. The young narrator chases the bird around the house as it runs amok and knocks over lamps and furniture. His sister, Amy, finds a note, I’m number 1. Feed me when I’m hungry. Just as the message implies, there are more to come; by the end of the year, 365 in all. Penguins, penguins everywhere. As they arrive, readers must recall the number of days in each month–by the end of February, they are calculating the number of penguins in all. Then Father decides to organize them, first into four groups of 15, later in boxes by the dozen, and, finally, into a cubic formation. By summer, the heat, noise, and smell are unbearable. On New Year’s Eve, ecologist Uncle Victor arrives and the mystery is solved. The engaging story is illustrated in a flat retro design with a palette dominated by orange, blue, gray, and black and white. The comical birds watch TV, dance with their teenage sister, and eat everything in sight. The text provides endless opportunities for word problems, and units on penguins and global warming will never be the same.
–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools