Today I am going to review the Tacky the Penguin books.
Written by Helen Lester and Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
My mom read the Tacky books to me when I was little, and I always laughed a lot. Tacky’s mischievous personality always looks like he’s going to get the other penguins in trouble; but miraculously, he ends up saving them. The other five penguins, Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect always do things perfectly right and exactly the way orderly penguins should do things. However, Tacky, well–he’s a different story! At the end of every book, Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect always discover that Tacky’s “an odd bird, but a nice bird to have around.”
I was introduced to these books about 13 years ago when I taught second grade. A c0-teacher of mine loved children’s books and was always finding ones I had never heard about. One day, she walked into my room, and said, “I found these books. They’re a lot of fun. Do you want to borrow it and read it to your class today?” So I did, and I was hooked. Many teachers all over the country read Tacky books to their students, especially in the winter months when penguin crafts are being done or the letter P is being taught. I was able to accumulate a few of them when I taught, (even though I can only find two today 🙂 –books get carried around to every room in our house!) There are at least eight other Tacky books that have been written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. A couple of obvious reasons for liking these books is that both children and adults find them amusing and they are books that are easy for children to relate to. In today’s world, when many children’s books are written with an underlying motive of making children feel okay with being different, these books also give a sense of accepting others who do not necessarily fit into their peer group. Tacky does not do everything the same way as his penguin friends–he does not fit into the penguin mold. But at the end of every story, the other penguins are glad he is around as he somehow gets them out of a jam or helps them win a competition because others like his differences. In saying all of this, his differences are never mean or sinful. He is just an odd bird who is clumsy yet friendly and enthusiastic.
Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger also write other children’s picture books. My personal favorite is Me First! In our house, we call the book “Who Would Care for a Sandwitch?” in a sing-songy way. The first time we read it, we laughed so hard. If your child is going through a “me-first” stage, this is the perfect book to read to him. These books are available in many stores and on-line, and many local libraries have them available to check out.