We recently bought '10 Little Penguins', by Jean Luc Fromental, and it was such a big hit in our house, I decided to buy '365 Penguins' as well. The two books are very different, but both have been equally popular with my sons, and I am absolutely delighted with this book.
Before buying this book, I did some online research. I had some concerns as '10 Little Penguins' could be a bit upsetting for a child, and I even emailed another dooyoo member who mentioned owning it for more detail before purchasing (Thank You Manifesto ). The reviews on this were all good, but some made it sound very, very educational. Now that isn't necessarily a bad thing, we do home educate and I'm always looking for new ways to make learning fun, but I wanted this book simply because my sons love penguins, not as a school book. A lot of praise is given this book for it's artistic qualities, and it does show real artistic talent. This book is also highly recommended as a resource to teach maths using literature. There are even web pages of maths questions you can use with this book.
I do like the idea of using books to teach counting. I think we all do this to some extent, whether we home educate or not. Most of us have sat down with a small child and counted out various objects on pages, learning to count to 10, or even 20, but most counting books stop there. I do own 101 Dalmatians counting book as well, which was the only book I had found before to tackle such a high number. I felt it would be helpful to have a book which demonstrates such a high number, but was afraid that in trying to teach children too much - it might miss out on the fun.
It turned out my fears were groundless. This isn't exactly a traditional counting book, but it can be used as one, and even for very young children will help to them to understand the concepts of larger numbers. This book is primarily a story, and a very funny one at that. Everything else is just extras. Yes, the book does teach some math skills, but it does it in such a way that while I suspect the author did intend to teach maths skills with this book - I am not certain if this was an issue when writing the book or it just worked out that way. The flow of the story is natural and uncluttered, and the story is never sacrificed to make a mathematical point.
The story itself is quite simple. A delivery driver arrives one morning with a parcel for a family. Inside the parcel is a penguin and a note which reads "I'm number 1. Feed me when I am hungry". With a note like this, one can only assume there will be more penguins. After all, why number something when there is only one? The next day, another penguin arrives, and as the days go by, more and more penguins are delivered. This goes on for an entire year. One penguin is adorable. Two penguins are lovely. Three Hundred and sixty five penguins in your house is a bit of nightmare. As the days go on, and the house fills up, there is one hilarious incident after another, all the while children are learning little snippets such as the fact that February only has 28 days, and when we add 31 penguins plus 28 more, we end up with 59 - which is quite a lot for one ordinary house.
My boys are ages 7 and 3. They both enjoy this book, and both have had quite a lot of laughter when reading it, but the 3 year old does get the most enjoyment from it. He loves to hear it over and over. I don't think either boys notices that they are learning as they listen to this, they just enjoy the story. My oldest says it is a bit like Mr Popper's Penguins - but with a lot more penguins. Both boys especially like a page where the sister has had enough and screams "I hate penguins!" before going into a very funny anti - penguin rhyme. The ending is even better - and sure to bring a smile - but I won't spoil that.
The art work in this book is simple, but striking as well. The only colours used on most pages are black, white, blue orange and flesh colour. A few pages have a bit of grey and brown as well. The overall effect is really lovely though, and I feel the distinctive colours make this book ideal to read to infants as well as older children. This book is quite large - 14" x 11 1/2 ", and so has plenty of room for big bold pictures.
As a home educator, I do value this book for bringing maths in, without making it feel as if we are studying. It does have a very brief ecological message as well. This isn't really a counting book, but you can count the penguins if you wish - and counting all of them puts my three year old out for the count far better than counting sheep! This does really give children an idea of what larger numbers look like, and it is one of very few books that can be used to teach a child to count to over 100. But as a parent, I really value this book simply because it is fun. It is really a lovely story to enjoy before bed, and has given both of my sons plenty of laughter and smiles. I am hoping to pick up a few other books by this author at some point as well. I was lucky enough to pick this book up at a much reduced price, but full price is £7.66 including postage from Amazon. I honestly feel that this book is worth every penny. I would recommend this book from birth to about age 8 - but I did still enjoy it a bit myself. Of course I'm a bit of a big child anyway, and I do love penguins.
I would note that there appear to be the correct number of penguins on each page to match the text. However, I can only say there appears to be, as the penguins are very hard to count once you get over 100. I keep getting mixed up and end up with numbers from 345 - 375, rather than the proper 365 when counting penguins at the end of the story. They all seem to blend together and it is very hard to remember which ones you have already counted. As as my son tends to fall asleep while I count - I leave off once he is sleeping. We do not count the penguins every time we read this . It does take from the story and is very time consuming. It isn't just the 365 penguins at the end, but the many pages with 100+ penguins that come much before the end of the book. Most of the time we only count the penguins at the beginning of the book, and just enjoy the story.
Finally - for those who may be concerned - No penguins - real or fictional are harmed in this book. There are no exploding penguins, no penguins eaten by whales, or penguins meeting other unusual forms of demise. There is really nothing in this book to frighten or upset even a very young and sensitive child.