Review of The Penguin of Ilha Grande: From Animal Rescue to Extraordinary Friendship

The Penguin of Ilha Grande:From Animal Rescue to Extraordinary Friendship The Penguin of Ilha Grande:From Animal Rescue to Extraordinary Friendship
by Shannon Earle; illus. by Renato Alarcão
Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp.
1/23    9781623541668    $17.99
e-book ed.  978163299637    $9.99

Seu João lives on an island off the coast of Brazil. When an oil-soaked Magellanic penguin washes ashore, Seu João takes him home, cleans him with dish soap, and names him Dindim (a grandson’s attempt to pronounce the Portuguese word for penguin). As Dindim rehabilitates, the pair forms an attachment, though Seu João, respectful of the needs of wild animals, repeatedly tries to send Dindim back to the sea. Dindim does not leave—until one day, months later, he does. Earle’s account of this true story is skillfully restrained, describing only the two characters’ actions, and leaving readers to infer what human and animal feel for each other. “Seu João sat and drank his coffee. His lap was empty. But he remembered Dindim’s silky feathers and the beat of his heart.” Four months later, when Dindim amazingly returns, “the penguin waddled as fast as his little legs could carry him, right into Seu João’s arms.” Alarcão’s pastel-colored illustrations capture the appeal of the people, animals, and beaches of Praia Provetá. In addition to a brief glossary, appended notes provide additional information about Seu João and Dindim, facts about penguins and threats to their survival, and steps that readers can take to help protect threatened species.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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