My Penguin Osbert

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My Penguin Osbert By  Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, Illustrated by H.B. Lewis, book reviewMy Penguin Osbert is a delightful picture story book written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and illustrated by H.B. Lewis. It is a story that is told with much warmth and humour but also delivers a slightly more serious message which is that if you are given something that you ask for you have a responsibility to look after it. In this story, the main character who is a little boy but we don’t know his name has been given a real live penguin by Santa Claus. However, he soon discovers that looking after a penguin is ever so slightly tricky!

My Penguin Osbert is told by the small boy and I love the quirky expressive style in which he addresses his reader. To give an example this is how the book starts:-

‘This year, I was very specific in my letter to Santa Claus. We’ve had a few misunderstandings in the past…’

He then goes on to explain that when he asked for a fire-engine red car with a detachable roof he did get one but it was only ten centimetres long and that was not what he meant at all. It was the same when he wanted a trampoline but as he couldn’t spell it he tried to describe it and received a pogo stick instead. And that is why, this particular year he feels the need to be very specific and state that the penguin that he is asking for has to be a real one from Antarctica and not a stuffed one. Furthermore it should be thirty centimetres tall, be black and white with a yellow beak, and his name should be Osbert. And, believe it or not, that is exactly what he gets on Christmas Day!

The boy is extremely happy but he soon realises that Osbert does not want to do or eat the same things as him. Osbert wants to be outside in the snow or in cold water and he wants to eat wet slippery fish rather than delicious chocolaty things. However, as he keeps on explaining:

‘But I had asked for Osbert, and now I had him’

And because of this he always ends up doing what Osbert wants. This is a recurring theme throughout the book and it is great to discuss with small children as they will all need to learn how to compromise and this is a very good example of the little boy doing just that. However, he does get a bit fed up after a while and, wondering if a solution might be found, he writes to Santa again. Santa suggests a visit to the local Antarctic Park and it looks that just possibly there might be an answer to the little boy’s problem.

I hope that this has given a taste of what this excellent children’s story is about. It is a wonderful tale told with brilliant humour. The way it is expressed through the little boy’s words is just wonderful and I seem to know quite a few five year old boys who I could just imagine saying something similar. Also, as the story is written in the first person, you really feel you get to know this charming character.

There is slightly more text on the pages than you find on many other picture books which makes this story a more substantial read. The text is quite accessible though and would make this book ideal for newly confident readers as well as it being a book that a parent could read aloud to younger children.

The illustrations are brilliant too. They are quite muted and a little fuzzy around the edges but they really do help to tell the story. The expressions on the boy’s face at various times are really very telling, particularly one where he shares a cold bath with Osbert and you can virtually see his teeth chattering!

My two daughters love My Penguin Osbert and they particularly love the small boy telling the story. They keep returning to the book and picking it up again and I often hear them giggling over it too. They just love it!

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My Penguin Osbert
by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by H.B. Lewis

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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