It’s amazing how the incredibly simplistic text and illustrations of a picture book can truly warm your heart.
February in my elementary school library translates into a run on books about Arctic animals and Valentine’s Day. (Both teachers and children are inspired by the snow and ice out their windows, I suppose.) As the school librarian, I strive to make sure that I meet every anticipated need and, after experiencing this trend year after year, it became obvious that my selection of penguin books was woefully inadequate.
In my efforts to update, I stumbled upon a heartwarming story of friendship that perfectly combines the sentiments of Valentine’s Day with an Arctic animal, the title character, Penguin.
Not only does this book present the difference between an arctic climate and other climates in a way that completely accessible to my preschoolers, but it also presents an opportunity to discuss friendship, a timely topic for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday.
In deceptively simplistic text and illustrations, Salina Yoon tells the tale of how Penguin finds and befriends, Pinecone, even demonstrating his love by knitting him a scarf to keep him warm. Their “close-knit” friendship soon faces the ultimate challenge, separation, when Penguin realizes he has to return Pinecone to his home in the forest. Though he misses his friend very much, Penguin realizes that love sometimes means letting go. This loving choice is rewarded by Pinecone’s growth into a mature tree.
“When you give love, it grows.”
The beautiful and lyrical message of being far apart yet always staying in each other’s hearts is irresistibly sweet and a great way to introduce making and sending Valentine’s Day cards for friends and family that may be far away.