African Penguins: book recommendations

Penguins are just so friggin' cute.

When I clued in that South Africa was not just home to lions, giraffes, hippos and zebras, but also to penguins, I knew what we were going to include on our itinerary.

Boulders Bay.  An hour outside Cape Town.  I did not stop grinning the entire time we were hanging out with the penguins.

I love reading penguin books with my students.  Because, as well as being friggin' cute, penguins are also friggin' cool.

The Emperor's Egg is an amazing book.  It's about Emperor penguins. But this year, I wanted to highlight a book about African penguins.

Pierre the Penguin: a True Story
author: Jean Marzollo
illustrator: Laura Regan
publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (2010)
ages 4 - 7

When Pierre, an African penguin living at the California Academy of Sciences, begins to lose his feathers, the zoo staff is at a loss as to what to do. The lack of feathers causes Pierre to lose warmth, making him afraid to swim in the zoo pool. And the other penguins start to shy away, giving Pierre the "cold" shoulder. Unfortunately, heaters and medications fail to correct the situation. But one rainy day, inspiration strikes a biologist named Pam. While walking her dog in the rain, Pam notes that her pet wears a raincoat. Could a "raincoat," or wet suit, help Pierre? A tiny neoprene wet suit is designed especially for Pierre. But will it work?  (Sleeping Bear Press)

why I love this book
• it's a true story 
• it's a story of compassion and ingenuity solving a problem
• it's told in rhyme
• the author, Jean Marzollo is also the author of the award winning I Spy series
• the illustrator, Laura Regan (who was born in Canada) uses her art work to raise money for various wildlife organizations
• her realistic paintings complement the text and further engage the reader

We have been enjoying the African Penguin Cam from the Vancouver Aquarium.  Their Vancouver "home" was inspired by Boulders Bay in South Africa.  Click on the image of the penguins strutting their stuff at the Vancouver Aquarium. 

Read about Pierre at National Geographic Kids.

 Check out this news clip about Pierre. 

Another true African Penguin story is  Peter, Pamela and Percy and the Big Spill

This tale is based on the true story of the ship the 'Treasure', which sank in June 2000 just north of Cape Town, and caused a huge oil slick (1300 tonnes of oil) that harmed thousands of sea birds. People came from far and near to help rescue the penguins in an enormous clean-up operation. About 43 000 penguins were rescued in total, of those about 20 000 were oiled. The clean penguins were shipped from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth by truck to swim back to Cape Town (with some luck, because no one knew for sure what they would do, but they were counting on their strong homing instinct) in order to buy time to clean the beaches and the sea. The whole of South Africa plotted the progress of the 3 rescued penguins, Peter, Pamela and Percy, who were equipped with tracking devices as they swam home to Cape Town.

I don't know why I did not buy this book when I saw it in Boulders Bay, South Africa.  I guess I was feeling broke!  I just should have stretched the budget!  

Luckily, there is an iPad version.  

I've just got to leave you with a picture from Boulders Bay.  I could have watched them for hours. 

Image Map


  1. Spencer and I went to the California Academy of Sciences, but we did not see the penguins =(

    1. I figured you would have told us if you had. Wonder where they are.

  2. Thank you - I enjoyed learning about Pierre. It must have been really amzing to be so close to penguins in their home. Maria

    1. Hanging out with penguins was amazing. Apparently Pierre celebrated his 30th birthday last year.

  3. Such a wonderful true story to share about the penguins. Kids will absolutely love a story like this and be concerned about their future.Great classroom book.

    1. I like stories that can inspire kids to think about needs beyond their own. I think that this one falls into that category.

  4. Definitely have to read about Pierre! Just the thought of the suit-wearing waddler is too cute!

    1. I saw a news article asking for knitted sweaters for penguins in New Zealand to help them through an oil spill. Penguins in clothes - very cute!

  5. What an awesome story! That Pierre is quite the guy! I'm glad they fixed him up like they did. I'm going to have to find the book! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I think this is your kind of book, Rhythm. Do you have any penguin books you recommend?

  7. I love penguins too. Do you know what species these are? Our aquarium has Megellanic penguins from South America. They look similar. I hope our library has this one!

    1. These are African Penguins. They have also been called Jackass Penguins because their bray sounds like that of a donkey. I think I have also seen then called Blackfooted Penguins. Happy penguin book reading.

  8. Sandi,
    Thanks for the great true story book recommendations about a topic all Kindergartners love - PENGUINS! I will definitely be sharing them with my class. Great opportunities in both to have them see the world beyond themselves.
    One never has enough spending $ on vacation, especially a teacher who wants to bring learning back into the classroom from their experience. Keep on traveling, learning, and sharing with us through your blog! Love your posts!

    1. Penguins are just so much fun. I wish that I could spend waaaay more time playing penguins with the kids. And waaaay more time traveling. :)

  9. I love how your reviews are so packed not only with great books but with wonderful information and add-on activities! I learn so much every time I visit! Thanks for sharing another great review at Booknificent Thursdays!


Back to Top