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!

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story Of Dr. Temple Grandin (Julia Finley Mosca)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story Of Dr. Temple Grandin, written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, a biography of the incredible innovator and activist.

From the start, Temple was different. At three, she had yet to say her first word, didn’t like noises or crowds, and hated to be hugged. A doctor recommends that she be institutionalized, but Temple’s mother refuses, instead surrounding Temple with supportive people who work to help her adapt, and eventually find the right diagnosis: autism. Under the right care, Temple begins to speak, learn, and invent. Finding kinship with the animals at her aunt’s farm, she realizes that they think in the same way she does, using pictures. Her unique perspective allows Temple to devise methods and inventions to treat the animals more humanely and help farms run more efficiently. She becomes a world-renowned expert in animal behavior and earns three degrees. And now, the girl who was told she would never talk flies around the world to give speeches, all because Temple and the people who loved her knew she was “different, not less.”

LOVED this. We’re great admirers of Dr. Grandin and the feminist and ASD role model she is, and this story captured so much of what makes her story inspiring. Told in fun, bouncy, yet often quite powerful rhyme, it shows how the odds were stacked against Temple at many turns – an autistic woman working in the male-dominant STEM and livestock fields – but she refused be regarded as anything less than the genius that she was. The art is wonderful, using simple, adorable characters and plainly laying out complex ideas to connect with little ones, and a wealth of backmatter expands on the details of Temple’s life. The length is great, and JJ loved the animals, colors and engaging rhymes. A phenomenal biography to introduce a true icon, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!