During the month of December the winter season brings us more than enough wind, bitter temperatures and lots of snow. It's also a time for reflection on the past year. It's a time to observe holidays full of tradition with family and friends. Children celebrating Christmas pen letters to Santa Claus hoping he will grant their requests. As they get older they realize being "Santa" is far better and offers much more joy.
During the month of December the air seems to be charged with something extra special. There is a feeling that anything is possible. A character we met in Penguin and Pinecone: a friendship story (Walker & Company, October 2, 2012) has returned in a sixth title to welcome this wonderful time of year. Penguin's Christmas Wish (Bloomsbury, September 6, 2016) written and illustrated by Salina Yoon (whose heart is surely filled with as much compassion as Penguin's) takes us on another adventure where Mother Nature, as she is apt to do, has plans of her own.
It was Christmas Eve. Pumpkin was getting ready for the best holiday ever.
As a penguin what she would really like is to have a real evergreen tree to decorate for Christmas. Penguin knows exactly what to do. He gathers the group, Bootsy with her decorations, Pumpkin with the star and Grandpa with the gifts. With his sleigh loaded with supplies, Penguin leads the way up north.
When they arrive at the home of Pinecone, they are greatly surprised. Pinecone is huge but the scarf made by Penguin is clearly visible as is the heart-shaped circle of stones. In short order, they have Pinecone looking very festive indeed. As the Christmas Eve night settles around them, Grandpa, Pumpkin and Bootsy murmur their hopes for Christmas surprises. Penguin seated around a cozy fire has his own wish.
During the night Mother Nature sends a horrible snow storm with wild winds. On Christmas morning, the penguin foursome is disappointed to see the handiwork wrought by the weather. All their Christmas trimmings have disappeared.
Wise words from Grandpa give Penguin an idea. He makes use of the storm's wily deeds. As Christmas night descends and the crescent moon rises, Penguin realizes how magical Christmas can be. Every wish is granted in ways never imagined.
Salina Yoon's Penguin books (all her books) are bundles of love. In the character of Penguin we see how glorious life can be when in service to others. We come to understand the simplest things make us richer beyond any monetary amount. In Penguin's world all living beings are equal; everyone (everything) is important and has worth.
Her simple sentences, excellent for younger and beginner readers, are full of meaning. In addition to the narrative text and dialogue, Yoon includes exclamations, observations and sounds in smaller speech text in the illustrations. Here is a sample passage.
with all the trimmings.
"What a fine tree,"
Now we're ready
for Christmas! (Penguin)
Digitally rendered in Adobe Photoshop using heavier black outlines and bright colors, our present-carrying roly-poly friend Penguin walks toward his friend, Pinecone. The scene extends over the spine to the back of the book case, highlighting the previous five titles. Careful readers will see a very tiny Penguin and Pumpkin on the spine bookending the title. The opening and closing endpapers are a pattern, on deep sky blue, of alternating rows of crossed candy canes and a string of colored lights. There is a difference with the final endpapers courtesy of Mother Nature.
Beneath the title text Yoon has placed one of the interior images of Penguin. Under her dedication
In memory of
(a wonderful champion of children, books and reading as a teacher librarian extraordinaire)
is a tree-topper in the shape of a star. Her images throughout the book cover two pages, single pages, edge to edge or framed in a black line and wide area of white or a series of small pictures might be placed on a single page. These variations in illustration size create a flow for her story. Readers will particularly enjoy her shifts in perspective; looking at the forest from above, being near the penguin group as they decorate the tree, or extremely close to Penguin as the sun melts the snow.
One of my many favorite illustrations is on Christmas night. Penguin is seated in front of the fire, holding a steaming mug of hot chocolate. He is wearing his signature scarf and a red, green and yellow blanket. Behind the hill of snow where he sits are evergreens against a starry sky. Small plumes of snow indicate a breeze is rising.
You all are going to want to have this newest Penguin volume, Penguin's Christmas Wish, written and illustrated by Salina Yoon in your personal and professional collections. Even amid the bitter cold and the remnants of a snow storm, Penguin, his family and friends can find Christmas magic. This is the true meaning of Christmas. I encourage you to read this aloud often.
To learn more about Salina Yoon and her other books, please visit her website by following the link attached to her name. Penguin (and Pinecone) have their own Facebook page. MerryMakers have a Penguin doll now. Salina Yoon maintains a Twitter account at @SalinaYoon Penguin on Vacation and Penguin in Love are showcased on my blog here.