Penguin Problems

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Penguin ProblemsI’ve been in a terrible temper these last few weeks.

Angrily stirring my brandy sodden Christmas cake mix, irritably stringing up twinkly lights and cantankerously clicking through my Amazon orders. Bah Humbug! I’ve had a lot to juggle and instead of doing what I usually do and popping on a bit of Roxette and dancing around the kitchen, I became… Scrooge. Mirthless, moody and altogether miserable.

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’

on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding

and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

Here, here Scrooge. I hear ya ‘ol buddy. A mood really is a malevolent thing – it can take hold of you and becomes difficult to shake. But then…

… Jory John and Lane Smith’s Penguin Problems landed on my desk. And it SPOKE to me.  Just like me, Penguin’s in a mood. The smallest things are getting on his nerves. Even the ocean smells too salty. It’s just one endless irritant after another.

“It’s way too early. My beak is cold. What’s with all the squawking, you guys?”

(This could actually be a transcript from the first two minutes of every day of my life.)

In my favourite spread, where the predators of the dark depths try to eat Penguin, his po-faced response is… “Oh, great, a shark.”

Penguin doesn’t look how he wants to. He can’t do what he wants to. He can’t find who he wants to. He has SO MANY PROBLEMS. Then quite unexpectedly…

… a walrus soliloquy!

“I sense that today has been difficult, but lo! Look around you, Penguin. Have you noticed the way the mountains are reflected in the ocean like a painting? Have you gazed upon the blue of that cloudless, winter sky, my friend? Have you felt the sun as it gently warms your back?”

I won’t share the rest of Walrus’ wisdom, as it truly is a breath of fresh wintery air, helping remind Penguin (and me) how glorious the world truly is.

penguin problemsSo just like Penguin – I snapped out of it. I remembered Walrus’ wise words and I finally started to see the wonder all around me… like my four-year old Alice decked out as the angel in her nativity. Bare legged and in sneakers, Alice bounded onto the stage with eyes only for me. “Mum, mum” she stage whispered giving me a cheesy thumbs up. Or the wonder that is my son Benjamin dressed as the nativity donkey. At the tender age of two, Ben has very few words but that didn’t stop him braying out Little Donkey and galloping up and down the church altar.

A few days later and the car won’t start, I’ve burnt the Christmas cake, Alice is still singing Hallelujah and Ben is balancing on his head on top of the piano stool. But I’m not going to let it worry me, because the world is all the more brighter for it. As Walrus put it…

“I wouldn’t trade my life for any other, and I am quite sure you wouldn’t, either.”

What a frostily fantastic book. A philosophical gem – I’d prescribe Walrus’ Wisdom for readers of all ages.

Season’s Greetings to all of our lovely readers – wishing you much happiness and many splendid books this Christmas.


Penguin Problems is a featured title in our curated collection The Best Christmas Books For Children.


Jory John
Lane Smith
Walker Books

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