Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger was a book that sparked my interest when I saw it on the shelf. I vaguely remembered reading this book when I was younger, but the story itself was fuzzy. Well, curiosity got the best of me. When I began reading, I realized I had completely forgotten everything about this book except that there was a penguin named "Tacky". Therefore, it was pretty much like reading it for the first time.
Tacky the Penguin is a classic tale of someone who doesn't necessarily fit in with their peers, but in the end, the differences end up being very positive. Tacky, the main penguin, is not like other penguins. He is not quiet and polite, graceful, or a beautiful singer like the others. The others think he is an "odd bird". Well, one day the penguins safety becomes jeopardized. Hunters have come to trap the penguins! Well, while the other penguins hide behind an iceberg, Tacky decides he will do something very brave. He tricks the hunters into believing that there they are not in the land of pretty penguins by showing off his differences that contrast with the hunters schema of what a penguin IS. Once they leave, the others realize that Tacky's differences are good. Even though he may be an "odd bird", he is a very nice bird to be around.
Although this is a classic message presented in children's literature, I find it pretty cliche. I think it is a great message, but this book probably is not one I would select to share with students to talk about accepting differences. It was an average book. The story was cute, but it was predictable. Also, it could confuse some readers. After all, couldn't the hunters still see that Tacky was still a penguin?
The pictures in this book are also average. They are very cartoonish, but they have a fair amount of detail. My favorite illustrations involve Tacky and his "wacky" outfit. He definitely stands out, so the illustrator really made that clear to readers.
I remember enjoying this book, but it was forgotten over the years. I feel as though others would have a similar view regarding this book. It would be a book I would offer to children to read, and I know they would enjoy doing so. However, I think there are books better suited to discuss the message this book sends to readers.

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