Thursday, December 8, 2011

Penguin Power by Barbara Gruener

Hello again, it's Barbara from the Corner on Character; thanks for stopping by our blog.  I'm the preK through 3rd grade school counselor at Westwood-Bales in Friendswood, TX, here today to share a holiday pick you won't want to miss.  As the school's character coach, I'm always on the lookout for a book that will support and enhance the vision in our character building, namely dynamically shaping hearts and minds for the future.

I was so excited to find a new hardcover storybook half price at that day after sale that I’m not even sure I checked to see if it was the kind I usually buy, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel turned out to be one of our holiday faves!  It’s all about one little boy's Christmas wish coming true.  Kind of. 

You see, the young lad hasn’t been very successful in previous years at getting what he wants.  So this year, he decides to start early AND be very specific.  What he really wants is a penguin, a REAL penguin, who has to be “one foot tall, white and black with a yellow beak, and his name should be Osbert.”  The crafty kid even includes a drawing, just to seal the deal.

What happens when he actually gets his penguin is all SORTS of fun,  for the penguin, anyway. Trust me on this one, your kids will fall in love with this book, whose hidden lesson just happens to be the old adage:  Be careful what you ask for.  I used it as a lesson on responsibility since the little boy does go to great lengths to dutifully care for his new pet. Every time the boy jumped another hurdle with Osbert, my students would repeat the refrain with me: “But I had asked for Osbert, and now I had him.”  I actually added that line in a few more places than the author did, just for good measure since my kids love repetition. Stop periodically as you're reading to find out if the kids think that this penguin poses a problem. If so, what should the boy do? Two follow-up questions that'll challenge your little birds to read between the lines are “What’s the boy’s name?” and “What month did he write his letter to Santa?
H. B. Lewis' colorfully striking illustrations will make your artists want to draw an Osbert of your own, so break out the finger paints and have at it.  Research penguins with your little scientists so you can make the penguin portraits life-sized. This one is a Little Blue, so it’s smallish in size. You’ll need a lot more paper if you’re going to paint an Emperor! You can also use the story as your springboard to a letter to Santa if that's somewhere in your plans. Why not whip up a batch of yummy chocolate chip waffles? Or work on vocabulary from the book using words like specificmisunderstandings, detachable, igloo, herring, seaweed, icebergs, prune, frostbite.  Osbert was recently included on this list of holiday favorites at No Time For Flash Cards.

For entertaining and engaging enrichment, let your little scientists watch this precious Animal Planet clip about Lala, a 14-year-old King Penguin in Japan, who actually helps with the family shopping. Maybe asking for Osbert wasn't that far-fetched after all. What ideas come from this story that Joe could have tried to make life with a native of Antarctica work?  


  1. Barbara~ I'll have to check Osbert out! It looks like it will have beautiful illustrations, too! Thanks for sharing--I can't wait to read it! :)

  2. Yes, Ayn, the illustrations are amazing! It's SO obvious how Joe's feeling from the faces and expressions that Lewis has drawn. This one's a total package!

  3. I love this, Barbara! The book and penguin study are great ... I'm a fan of the book's lesson on responsibility, too. And the video is absolutely awesome! I pinned your post to my Kids' Winter Activities Pinterest board at

  4. I love Osbert - I got a set that includes a stuffed version of the little guy and he's just too cute! I plan to use this book as a writing prompt - to show my students that descriptive language is very important when getting a emssage across! Thanks for pointing out this post to me!

    Jennfier @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  5. I just posted a freebie for use with My Penguin Osbert if you want to come by and check it out!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  6. Thanks, Jennifer - LOVE the Osbert freebie and linked back to it at the Corner!!


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