Penguins (Animal Families), edited by Tim Harris
Penguins are pretty uniformly loved animals. Not only are they attractive in the sense of looking very formally dressed and proper, but their quirky waddling and graceful swimming and generally adorable ways make them an animal that is very easy for kids to enjoy growing up. Penguin rookeries in zoos are nearly always very popular areas and as someone who does not differ from the common taste in enjoying penguins a great deal, this book was one of several animal books at the library I picked up to read and review and see just how many different ways this animal was discussed by writers who wanted to appeal to the general taste for penguins and educate children on the matter as well. There are some things that just about every publisher of children’s books wants a title on, at least, and penguins is certainly one of those topics. If my own library reading collection is any indication, penguin books of a striking degree of quality and nuance are available to be read, and for those who like this sort of thing, this book is certainly an enjoyable book that tells a lot of information about penguins that would be of interest to readers young and old alike.
In terms of its contents, this book is a short one at 32 pages, and it is divided into a variety of non-numbered sections. The book begins with an introduction. After that the author explores the way that penguins live socially and seek safety in numbers like a great many other herd-type animals (including, it should be noted, human beings). The book then explores penguins diving for fish and how they behave when it is time to breed. There is a look at the process of egg-laying and incubation as well as the way that penguin parents bring up chicks and how one can see the baby birds growing bigger and less vulnerable to predators. There is a focus on streamlined swimming as well as the contrast between ancient and modern penguins–there are apparently fossils of an ancient penguin the size of a human being. The book discusses the multitude of enemies that penguins face as well as how they find homes in unlikely places, including dens in the forest (!). Yet penguins never live too far from the ocean, and the author makes a point about conservation and the relationship between people and penguins, after which the book closes with a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an index.