Patient penguin keeps her cool despite Katrina in new book

“Just wait and see.”

Argh! You hear that, and you know waiting is one of the hardest things to do. You already can’t wait for summer vacation. Independence Day, then Halloween and Thanksgiving, then Christmas or Hanukkah, you can hardly stand it! And yet, in the new book, “A Penguin Named Patience” by Suzanne Lewis, illustrated by Lisa Ancin, waiting for a storm to end is worse.

Something was “terribly wrong.”

Patience the Penguin could sense it: for one thing, it was too hot inside the penguin pen at Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. Yes, she was an African penguin, but the heat in there was toooooo much!

At least, though, the penguins were safe … for the time being. The aquarium withstood the winds and water of Hurricane Katrina but it was dark in there, and there was no electricity to cool things down. All the penguins complained but Patience, the oldest penguin there, kept them all “in line.” It was important to be patient, but where was Tom the Keeper?

When Tom bustled in, he counted all the penguins and was relieved to find that nobody was missing. Patience had done her job well! Then Tom said that he was going to get everyone out of the hot aquarium. He just didn’t know how, exactly.

That really worried Patience, but she trusted Tom when he promised all the penguins a long trip, an adventure and new friends. That would be fun! Then he said he’d bring everybody home safe again, once Hurricane Katrina’s mess was cleaned up.

That worried Patience even more, but she had work to do. She calmed all the other penguins, even though she was nervous herself. And Tom was right – when they arrived at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, there were new friends, cool water to swim in and nice people to see.

But Patience missed home and nine months later, her patience paid off! Tom came to California and took all the penguins back to New Orleans on an airplane. There was a band waiting for them, and everybody cheered.

And “all it took was a little patience.”

Waiting: what kind of fun is that? Chances are, it’s not – unless your child has “A Penguin Named Patience” around.

But time-tolerance isn’t the only thing young readers will get from this cute book: Lewis subtly tells a story of responsibility and cooperation that saves the day. Then, in her notes at the end of the story, she elaborates on this small event-within-an-event, and she explains what happened in greater detail.

Older children will like that, while younger children will delight in the adorable penguin illustrations from Anchin. Parents take note: keep your eyes on Tom the Keeper and the unabashed love Anchin draws for him. For that, he was my personal favorite.

Toddlers might be willing to sit still for this book, but I think pre-school kids and early gradeschoolers will enjoy it best. Find “A Penguin Named Patience” and get ready to open it. Your child can’t wait.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.

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