It's hard to be different. Especially when you look like everyone else around you. And you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I mean the snow. That's how Penguin Problems, written by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith begins.
It's way too early. Way too cold. Too much squawking. Too much snow. Too bright. For our hero, the grumpy, misanthropic penguin, it's just one thing after another. The "ocean smells to salty," and buoyancy is a challenge, "I sink like a dumb rock." The indignations just don't end. Being hunted stinks. Waddling is an embarrassment.
Finally, this penguin just can't take it anymore. In the midst of the snow, the ice, the crowds, he raises his little penguin fists and shouts, "I have so many problems! And nobody even cares!" For a moment, Penguin Problems shifts from picture book to novel as a walrus emerges from the tundra to show this penguin that it's not so bad, starting off with, "I sense that today as been difficult, but lo! Look around you, Penguin." The walrus urges the penguin to notice the beauty all around, to simply stand "with your penguin brothers and sisters and elders, who adore you." Yes, things are challenging and yes, we all have difficult moments, "from the walruses to the polar bears, to the whales to the penguins." But, "when you think about it, you'll realize that you are exactly where you need to be."
It's definitely a surprise - a good surprise - when the walrus moment arrives and goes on and on. And, just when you feel like Penguin Problems has taken a turn into the world of sentimental ly sweet picture books, a page turn takes us back to the cranky penguin, who is shrieking, "Who the heck was that guy?! Why do strangers always talk to me? Walruses don't understand penguin problems!" But, with a sigh, the penguin does gradually allow the wisdom of the walrus to sink in...
Source: Review Copy