Written and Illustrated by Salina Yoon
Walker & Company, 2012
One day, Penguin found a curious object.
Did You Know? Emperor penguins have the highest feather density of any bird, with about 100 feathers per square inch.
Penguin finds a pinecone in the snow, but he doesn’t know what it is. He worries that it’s cold, so he knits a scarf for his new friend and they do all sorts of things together. But his Grandpa tells him that Pinecone belongs in the forest and will never grow in the snow. Penguin packs a sled and takes Pinecone home, where he makes a nest of soft pine needles. He circles the nest with stones (in the shape of a heart) and says goodbye to his friend. Time passes and Penguin wonders if Pinecone grew up, so he journeys to the forest and finds a full-grown tree wearing his scarf. The two are happy to be reunited and they play together. Penguin brings a little of the forest home with him and a girl penguin finds the pinecone that falls off his sled, starting the cycle again.
Author/illustrator Salina Yoon introduced the character of Penguin in this book and has gone on to write an additional five books about him. It’s easy to see why he became such an instant hit with kids and parents alike. He’s adorably drawn, with an innocent gentleness that is pretty irresistible. I was expecting Pinecone to be a normal pinecone, but (although he never speaks) he has a distinct personality and emotionally reacts to Penguin, which was a pleasant surprise. There’s an element of sadness to this book, as these two friends cannot be together for very long, since their environments are different. But they show us that friends can be part of each other’s lives from a distance, which is truer now than it was when I was a little girl. It’s a tremendously sweet story that I really loved and if all the Penguin books are of this caliber, I hope Ms. Yoon keeps on writing them.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that (and I’m taking this straight from the book) when you give love, it grows.