Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reading: Valentine's Day Treat - My Penguin, Osbert, In Love

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I discovered My Penguin, Osbert, In Love at my school library while searching for a fun, festive Valentine's Day book that I could use as a read-aloud with sequence activities.  The beautiful, pastel-purple cover caught my attention first; the adorable penguin gushing and holding a bouquet of flowers kept it.  As I read My Penguin, Osbert, In Love, I was mostly captivated by the whimsical pictures;  my students, however, were very expressive as we shared the story, amazed at the young boy's helicopter, and disgusted with the budding love between two penguins. 

In My Penguin, Osbert, In Love, author Elizabeth Cody Kimmel tells a story about Joe and his penguin, Osbert.  Joe received Osbert as a Christmas gift from Santa in the book My Penguin, Osbert, and in this sequel, Osbert and his penguin chums visit Joe with an invitation to see the fantastical night sky in the South Pole.  Penguins can't fly, but with his brand new helicopter, Joe can!  Throughout the book, Joe and the penguins journey to the South Pole, where Osbert falls in love with a new penguin and seems to forget about Joe.  

My students absolutely loved seeing an illustration of Joe's helicopter, which was a full-bleed illustration taking up nearly two full pages to show the immensity of this machine.  The boys in my class were delighted, oohing and ahhing and dreaming about flying their own helicopters someday!  The illustrator, H.B. Lewis, strategically uses his art to convey emotions that might not easily be revealed in the text.  For example, when Joe sneaks the penguins into his house, the illustrations are full-bleed and span across both pages to show how exciting this endeavor is!  When Joe is in his bedroom cleaning his ant farm, the illustration is framed in the middle of the page, as this is a rather mundane task.  When Osbert falls in love, he and his penguin love are framed in an abstract heart shape, and when Joe feels forgotten by his dear friend, an image of the two lovebirds standing uphill from Joe reveals the distance between the characters.  And as Joe walks back to the helicopter preparing to fly home - alone, it is the illustration that capture Joe's emotion and shows the audience how hurt he feels.  Lewis' illustrations add SO much detail to the text and support the story immensely. The whimsical, bright colors make Osbert in Love an aesthetic treat and are, perhaps, the next best thing to actually viewing the South Pole sky.  Further, I appreciate the size of the text!  Since Osbert in Love is intended for children, the larger text size makes it easier for children to see and read, revealing that this book was created with its audience in mind!
With beautiful illustrations and whimsical colors, Osbert in Love is a treat!

Besides telling a unique story, Osbert in Love reiterates the importance of friendship and reveals that making a new friend doesn't mean losing a former one!  It fit in excellently with my students' study of sequence, and they enjoyed sequencing the story, as well as the functional text recipes found in the back.  My Penguin, Osbert in Love, is a cute story with beautiful illustrations!  If you would like to become acquainted with the illustrator himself, be sure to visit his website!

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