Penguin Problems: A Review & Giveaway


(written by Kathleen and Dana)

You think you’ve got problems? You haven’t met this penguin yet.

Penguin Problems by Jory John is the story of a grumpy, pessimistic, and somehow completely lovable penguin. This penguin has problems. His beak is cold. His flippers ache. He is hungry. The sun is too bright. He looks silly when he waddles. It seems nothing will make this penguin happy. A walrus comes along and tries to change penguin’s attitude… but can he?

If you talk about attitude and mindset in your classroom, this book will be a great addition to your read aloud set. Penguin Problems is all about perspective right up until the final, unexpected page. We would love to ask kids which character they identify more with – the penguin or the walrus. Kathleen thinks this book would pair nicely with Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean.

Plus, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. Really, it is hilarious. (Hint: don’t skip the front flap.)

Penguin Problems can become one of your go-to mentor texts. The text is so simple, just a few words on every page. Since the text is not overwhelming, you can really zero in on a few craft moves:

Two craft moves from the front flap:
1. Use of punctuation to create voice
Examples: “What?!” and “Listen: I’m going back to bed.”

2. Intentional use of ‘and’ to start a sentence
Example“I’m sure you’d just get a bunch of paper cuts, anyway. And you’d probably bend the pages. And you’d get your little fingerprints everywhere.”

Three craft moves from within the book:
1. Repeated line
Example: “Oh, great. An orca. Oh, great. A leopard seal. Oh, great. A shark.”

2. Cadence
All the penguin’s sentences are short. The whole rhythm of language changes when the walrus speaks in very long sentences. This change in cadence creates an interesting distinction in voice between the two characters.

3. Intentional use of ‘and’ to start a sentence
Example: “After all, I do love the mountains. And the ocean. And the sky. And I have friends and family.”

We enjoyed this book so much we knew we had to talk about it, so we met on Google Hangouts one night to chat about Penguin Problems. You can see our conversation here:

We are happy to announce that Penguin Random House is donating a copy of Penguin Problems and a tote bag to one lucky winner. Leave a comment below to enter!

Comments are closed.

The winner of the giveaway is Stefanie. The winner was chosen by a random number generator. Stefanie’s comment was:

I would love to have this book for my campus! My 4th and 5th grade teacher are just starting to use picture book in their lessons. This would be a great addition to their new collection with ideas already to go!


  • This giveaway is for a copy of Penguin Problems.  Many thanks to Penguin Random House for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Penguin Problems, please leave a comment about this post by Friday, September 16th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. We will use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names we will announce at the bottom of this post, by Monday, September 19th.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Penguin Random House will ship your book and tote bag out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – (Penguin Problems). Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.