Young readers will delight in Pengwee, who is lovably innocent as he tries to master the art of deep breathing. His first attempt at a “Superpower Breath” comes out with such power he nearly knocks over his mother, but it doesn’t take him long to learn the ropes, and soon he is able to defeat even seemingly insurmountable fears. The Ice Festival is also irresistible–a winter-themed extravaganza of carnival games, entertainment, and tempting penguin snacks, like the “imported fried smelt” or “whale blubber cones.” Alexandra Rusu’s whimsical watercolor illustrations add a dreamlike feel, with subtle lines and cool shades that match the story’s midwinter motif.
Nutley offers a sliver of suspense alongside the charm by embracing thrill rides that can be intimidating to so many kids. Once Pengwee learns to put his emotional calming talents to use, the Ice Monster is transformed in his eyes from terrifying to exhilarating–a concept notably important to Nutley, who is a certified meditation instructor with a fondness for teaching mindfulness to youth. Adult readers will appreciate the introduction to self-soothing, and this engaging story adeptly captures the intensity of childhood fears–and the skills to handle them.
Takeaway: A young penguin learns–and shows readers–how deep breathing can help overcome fears.
Great for fans of: Rachel Bright’s The Lion Inside, Gaia Cornwall’s Jabari Jumps.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B