The Emperor's Egg

This week we have gone black, white and waddling all over.

Black, white and waddling is a great opportunity to focus on non-fiction books.  Penguins seem to attract engaging, well written, well illustrated books.

My favourite (making it a perfect choice for Perfect Picture Book Friday) black, white and waddling book is The Emperor's Egg.

written by:  Martin Jenkins
illustrated by:   Jane Chapman
published by:  Candlewick Press (2002)
themes:  non-fiction, Emperor penguins
fabulous for children 4-7

The book begins ....
Down at the very bottom of the world, there's a huge island that's almost completely covered in snow and ice.  It;s called Antarctica, and it's the coldest, windiest place on earth.  The weather's bad enough there in summer, but in winter it's really terrible.  It's hard to imagine anything actually living there.  But wait ... what's that shape over there? It can't be.  YES!  It's a PENGUIN.

That introduces us to the hero of the tale:  the penguin papa.  

The book description states:  Can you imagine spending the winter outdoors in Antarctica without anything to eat?  That's just what the male emperor penguin does.  While his mate of off swimming and catching loads of fish, he stands around in the freezing cold with an egg on his feet for two whole months, keeping it warm and waiting for it to hatch.  Welcome to the story of the world's most devoted dad.

I love this book because ....
• it shares a bunch of information about Emperor Penguins and their eggs
• this information is presented in a fun, conversational tone, making me root for the papa penguin, huddled with all the other papas, taking care of his egg
• I celebrated with the papa and the hungry chick when Mom came home - family reunion
• my students loved the editorial comments about Mom and Dad penguin regurgitating for their chick
• the illustrations are naturalistic, giving a good idea about the Antarctic landscape, but are still a whole lot warmer and friendlier than the penguin's environment
• it's a lot of fun to read aloud
• it made me and my students laugh

a few penguin resources
We checked out a few penguin cams. Sea World in San Diego has Emperor penguins in their penguin exhibit - it was our favourite.

We also became YouTube penguin clip junkies.  
Birth and March of Emperor Penguins - 6 mins 20 secs

Baby Penguins First Steps - 2 mins

The egg on the top right is an Emperor penguin egg.
source:  Seaworld
clockwise from top centre:  king, emperor, Magellanic, Adelie, and gentoo.  King and emperor penguins incubate eggs on the tops of their feet.  The elliptical shape fits snugly.  If the egg happens to fall off, it will roll in a circle instead of a straight line away from the parent bird. 
 We made like penguins.  The kids decided if they were mama or papa penguins and found a "mate".  The mama laid an egg (a bean bag), and carefully passed it over to the papa to keep warm on his feet.

The mamas headed out to see for a long (2 month) lunch.  The kids were quite worried about eating fish and krill.  I assured them that they did not have to eat anything that they did not like - but I figured that they would like it. (It was fishie crackers and popcorn.)
The eggs started hatching.  The papas had to take care of the chick and regurgitate to feed their baby.  They had a bit too much fun regurgitating!
The mamas came home full and round with fish and krill.  The papas turned over care of the chick to the mamas and headed out to sea.  

Since my kidlets were so disgusted/enthralled with regurgitation (it has 5 syllables which make it a pretty cool word), I have to share this poem from Antarctic Antics with you. 


It's been one whole hour since I ate.
Why is my dinner always late.
While you and Mom procrastinate,
I might become a featherweight.
You know what I'd appreciate?
Cough it up Dad! Regurgitate!

Lastly, penguin books are so much more fun with penguin socks.


  1. What a fun post! I love all your penguin things, but especially the kids pretending to be penguins. "regurgitate" is a fun word!!
    Owl Things First

    1. Dressing up like penguins is a pretty low prep-high impact activity.
      I think the kids' fascination with regurgitation may come back to haunt me!


  2. Sold! I haven't seen this one and I have read a lot of penguin picture books!

    1. There are so many fun (and informative) penguin books out there.


  3. This book is waiting for me at the library. I can't wait to get over there to get it. Another one I adore is Penguin Chick by Betty Tatham It also teaches so much about them.

    You are such an inspiration for how teaching grows over time.

    First in Maine

    1. I thought that I had enough penguin books - but there is obviously another one that I need to acquire! Do you know and love Tacky the Penguin? My kids have had a lot of fun with his crazy antics this year.


  4. Your sensory tables are always great! Thank you for sharing!

    Granny Goes to School

    1. I have so much fun putting the sensory tables together. And then watching what the kids bring to the materials that I have put out - they think of things that I had never even thought of considering.


  5. I love this book! But I love the way you guys acted out the story even more. That must have been so much fun.
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. Penguin day is a kindergarten tradition. I would not be able to change things up without incurring the wrath of five year olds (and their mamas who would inform me that their wee ones have been waiting to eat fish and krill since older brother/sister was in kindergarten a couple of years ago.) It's fun. So, it's all good.


  6. Boy penguins are sure cute! And those kids sure make cute penguins! Looks like y'all had a lot of fun. They do penguins at our school too, but I don't think I've ever seen them dress up that way!

  7. Wow! Love this book. Loved the movie "March of the Penguins." So important for kids to learn about different species. Love you videos and photos!

  8. What great learning ideas for penguins. I adore the costume and those penguin socks are adorable! I love how you learn about using many different learning opportunities. Brilliant!

  9. We love penguins...those costumes are too cute! We just may have to try to make those. Thanks for sharing at Share it Saturday!

  10. We're penguin lovers too. Once all the hippos (er, hippo books) leave the house, we can focus on penguins. Thanks for suggesting this one.


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