Name of Book: Tacky the Penguin
Author: Helen Lester
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Audience: Ages 3 -7
Summary: Tacky the penguin is not your typical penguin. He wears loud Hawaiian shirts, sings off key, trips over his own feet, and does “splashy cannon balls.” He clearly doesn’t fit in with the other pretty penguins that make beautiful music and march in straight lines. One day, several hunters come along to catch and sell some of the pretty penguins. While they all hide, Tacky greets the hunters with a slap on the back and scares them away with his horrible singing. The pretty penguins realize how lucky they really are to have such an odd bird around.
Literary Elements at Work in the Story: Tacky the Penguin is a fictional story involving personified animals. The use of animals provides a great way to address issues of peer acceptance and individuality in a non-threatening way. The silliness of Tacky, the sing-song rhythms, and the colorful illustrations make this book instantly enjoyable for young children.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? This story is unaffected by issues of gender/race/culture/ economics/ability. The author’s use of animals makes it non-specific, and all types of people understand the experience of not being accepted or accepting others.
Theological Conversation: God loves each of us. God loves each of us not only in spite of our differences, but precisely because of them! We should celebrate our own uniqueness and that of others. Even those qualities that may seem undesirable at first can be used in beautiful ways by God. If Tacky hadn’t sung so horribly or been quite so clumsy, the hunters may have continued their search and captured all the penguins. Tacky had qualities that seemed silly or not so great at first, but God used them to save the day.
Scripture Suggestions: 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6
Faith Talk Questions:
1. What was it that made Tacky so different?
2. What ways are you different from your friends of family?
3. Sometimes our differences can make us feel left out. Think about a time you felt left out of maybe a time you hurt someone else’s feelings because they were different in some way. Share that story if you would like to.
4. Do you think God wants us to all be the same like the pretty penguins or each of us to be different? How do you know? (This would be a good time to talk about God created each of us different on purpose.)
5. How can we show God’s love to people who are different from us?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Megan Argabrite
Tacky the Penguin by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.