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Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2012 After Elliott convinces his father to allow him to bring home a penguin (Dad thinks he means a toy) from the aquarium, he sets Magellan (named after the explorer who discovered the species) up in style, creating an ice rink in his bedroom using a wading pool, the garden hose, and the lowest air-conditioning setting. Elliott reads up on his new pet (“I have some research to do at the library about Magellan,” he tells Dad, who replies, “When I was in third grade, I got Captain Cook”), feeds him anchovy pizza, and lets him hang out in the freezer and the bathtub. In a clever twist at the book’s end, readers discover that Elliott is not the only one with an exotic pet-the “Captain Cook” Dad referred to was not the explorer but a Galápagos tortoise. Jacket flap gives the story’s origins as an urban legend, and there are also clear nods to the beloved Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Kids who have often wished they could bring home their favorite zoo critters will find this delightful, and all will enjoy the clever ways that the penguin is kept from Dad’s attention even while the tortoise is kept from the viewer’s (close scrutiny will find many hints to the tortoise’s presence). The comic characterizations of Elliott and his father, and Small’s lively ink, watercolor, and colored pencil illustrations-especially those featuring the penguin (he skates with flair and looks adorable in a bike helmet en route to the library)-will make this a popular choice for both reading aloud and reading alone. JH - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2012 PreS-Gr 3—Sporting a tuxedo and a sly smile, Elliot is the type of dapper young hero who can't abide masses of noisy kids, but when his clueless father suggests Family Fun Day at the aquarium, he politely agrees to go. Avoiding the crowds, he discovers penguins that, "in their tidy black feather tuxedos and their proper posture," remind Elliot of himself. When he asks "May I please have a penguin?," his father absentmindedly agrees, assuming his son wants a plush toy from the gift shop. And then the fun begins. Small is in top form here with a flawless design that begins with the crisply patterned Antarctic blue and white endpapers. With a flowing line, a liberal amount of white space, and a limited color palette, the overall impression is one of elegant restraint. At the same time, there is a sense of movement conveyed through an inventive typeface, a varied layout, and dramatic perspectives. The artist plays off the wry text to capture the comic chaos of hiding a penguin at home. Viewers will chuckle at the bird's antics. Aptly named Magellan, he becomes Elliot's accomplice—don't miss him chilling out on several bags of ice while popping goldfish crackers. Toward the climax, viewers begin to get a hint of the father's passion when he appears in pajamas covered with turtles. The surprise ending has the same satisfying sensibility as Jules Feiffer's Bark, George (HarperCollins, 1999). A real kid charmer that will elicit "Read it again!" responses.—Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 01/01/2012 Polite, bow-tie-and-suit-wearing Elliot is none too excited when his father suggests attending Family Fun Day at the aquarium. But once he is there, he is drawn to the Magellanic penguins, whose tidy black feather tuxedos with their proper posture remind Elliot of himself. So he decides to sneak one home in his backpack, under his father’s seemingly oblivious eye. Once home, Elliot and his new penguin pal dine on frozen anchovy pizzas, share Goldfish crackers, and skate on a mini ice rink in his room (created with a wading pool and hose)—all the while his father is blithely engaged with his atlas, maps, and charts and appears not to notice the goings-on. Small’s black-and-white line illustrations with pops of soft color are an artful blend of elegance, wit, and whimsy. They echo and complement the text and depict expressive characters, including the playful penguin. This charming picture book has many humorous details throughout, and kids will likely laugh out loud at the surprise ending—particularly for the father! - Copyright 2012 Booklist.