Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters (Marikka Tamura)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters, written by Marikka Tamura and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, a lovely story that combines adorable penguins with a message of environmentalism.

The reader is introduced to a colony of playful penguins, living their best penguin lives. They swim and hunt for fish in the cool water, they let their fluffy feathers dry as they bask in the warm sun, they cuddle, waddle, play, and are happy. But one day, a tanker ship floats by and leaks icky black stuff into the water, which makes it no good for swimming and coats the penguins’ fluffy feathers in muck. Big Boots (humans) come to help, but the penguins are cold and scared. So the Big Boots put out a call to other Big Boots: knit sweaters for penguins!

Adorable. First, the text is delightful to read aloud; the choice for the narrative to be in penguin “voice” – using short, simple sentences to emulate the penguins’ point of view – creates a joyful and innocent tone. There is a little confusion where the message is concerned, as the story is based on a real-life incident in which knitters were asked for sweaters after an oil spill in Australia, but the sweaters were ultimately found to not be beneficial to the recovering birds. The author makes note of this in her afterward, but the wording in story is vague enough that this point may not make it across to younger readers. However, its ultimately a story of how, regardless of carelessness or good intentions, penguins are at their happiest when humans don’t interfere at all, and they are left to just be penguins. That’s a solid message. Otherwise, the colorful and darling illustrations are perfect for the style, the length was good, and JJ loved it. A clever and cute cautionary tale against human interference, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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