I am a fan of penguins, which you may or may not be shocked to hear. I am also quite a big fan of browsing around the odd charity shop. Never did I think that these two things would come together and cause me such joy!
In the British Heart Foundation in Eccles I found a book imaginatively titled ‘Penguin’, by Holly Dunbar. It is a children’s book and was published in 2007. I had a flick through it and decided that for 95p I would willingly splash out, as I instantly knew I had to share it with someone! I haven’t come across many children’s books in my time which have made me laugh, instead of moan about how awful they are. So thank you, ‘Yajat, Mummy and Baba’ for getting bored of it and getting rid of it.
This book follows the riveting story of a voluntarily mute penguin that a little boy receives wrapped up in a box. Firstly, why would a penguin be given as a gift unless as part of one of those dreadful adoption schemes where you get letters from the animal (who always seem to have a remarkable grasp of the English language)?! Then again it could also have been stolen for a zoo. This little boy tries everything he can to make the penguin talk to him, including poking it and taking the piss out of it, the poor sod.
In the end, after trying to feed the penguin to a large blue lion that casually saunters by, the boy instead gets eaten by the lion. I suppose this is his comeuppance for being such an abusive little arsehole! The penguin however, takes the moral high ground and bites the lion on the nose, who subsequently releases the child from it’s jaws. The penguin then decides to say “everything” as the book puts it, which if you ask me would take a bloody long time to do, but is summed up by the author in the form of a large speech bubble with pictures in it. How heart warming-ly sinister!
The illustrations in this book are great, I love the way that the penguin appears to be livid throughout the narrative – though who could blame it, really? If I were to write a children’s book about a penguin, I would probably have drawn it like that too. This is a penguin after my own heart; no matter how many times you try, you wont get something out of me until it’s probably too late, by which time you will be resting between the teeth of a blue lion. True story.
In future when you are passing a charity shop, I urge you to go inside and look at what strange books you can find. Not least you could have a bloody great big laugh about how dreadful some of them are, and if you’re lucky, once in a while, you might unearth a little gem like I did with ‘Penguin’.