• Happy birthday Tedd Arnold (Hi! Fly Guy), Mary Anderson (The Rise and Fall of a Teenage Wacko).
  • It’s the birth date of Joy Adamson (1910–1980), Born Free, and Helen Hoover (1910–1984) A Place in the Woods.
  • In 1885, L.A. Thompson patents the roller coaster. Read Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee.
  • The first official basketball game is played in 1892 at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. Read Basketball (Or Something Like It) by Nora Raleigh Baskin.
  • It’s Inauguration Day. On this day in 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Read Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Today marks Penguin Awareness Day.  Who doesn’t love penguins? They look so wonderful in their tuxedos, so well turned out and charming. But, then, I must admit that I have never lived with any. If I did, possibly I’d feel differently—I’d be more circumspect about them, like the family in our book of the day, 365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental and Joëlle Jolivet.

In this oversize book—with a 1950s retro style and a palette of black, orange, and blue—a young boy narrates a strange saga. On New Year’s Day the doorbell rings, “Ding dong!” and a package arrives. It contains a penguin, with the note: “I’m number 1. Feed me when I’m hungry.” The young narrator’s father, mother, and sister, Amy, try to determine who sent the package, and then the next day, “Ding dong!” another penguin arrives. A resilient group, the family sets out to master the situation—naming the penguins and feeding them. By the end of January, 31 penguins live in their home. Rather well behaved, the birds watch television as an orderly group—except for a couple who help themselves to food. By the end of February (31 + 28 penguins), the family needs to figure out how to organize them. So father and Amy start stacking penguins. By the time they have three-digit penguins, they admit the problems have escalated—cost of feeding per day, cleaning the penguins, and housing them. To solve the issue of living space, the family builds file cabinets and keeps their charges in order by number. When a blue-footed penguin, Chilly, appears, the drawings provide young readers with all kinds of opportunities to locate him in masses of penguins. Although the whole idea, of course, is preposterous, the family never flinches. They just keep doing the math, making decisions, and trying to keep massive numbers of penguins in order, as “Ding, dong!” each day the doorbell rings.

Finally, the mystery of the penguins is solved; Uncle Victor, the ecologist, arrives. He’s sent them from the South Pole, where their habitat is being threatened, and he will now take them all to the North Pole to start a colony (the science in the book is not quite as good as the math). So he leaves Chilly, and a relieved family. That is until the next day, “Ding dong!” when polar bear number one arrives.

For group or family participation, 365 Penguins offers all kinds of opportunities. The bold drawings can be seen across a room. Outside of Jon Scieszka’s Math Curse, books that teach math have rarely been so much fun. Needless to say, the frequent “Ding dong!” lends itself to responsive reading. Winner of a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Award, 365 Penguins definitely strikes the funny bone of children and adults alike.

On Penguin Awareness Day, I am relieved that I don’t have to organize 14 penguins, much less 365. In comparison, taking care of the Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac seems like a snap!

Here’s a page from 365 Penguins:


Originally posted January 20, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Award Winning, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, Family, Humor, Penguins
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for 365 Penguins


  1. I love this book and give it often as a gift. It is displayed in my office, and I find it is often the first picked up by both children AND adults!

  2. Anita says:

    Carol: Great to hear from you. The cover draws in both children and adults; the story delights everyone.

  3. Tobin says:

    I can’t resist posting this link about a domesticated penguin — saved from a fisherman’s net — who seems to be doing quite well for himself.


    But then again, he’s only one.


  4. Anita says:

    Tobin: The clip convinces me; I could at least live with one penguin.

  5. leda says:

    I have always wanted a penguin. This book is among my favorites.

  6. Jill Casey says:

    I like the illustrations and the color palette.

  7. Philip Nel says:

    Love this book. And, while we’re on the subject, let’s add to our list of Great Books About Penguins, Antoinette Portis’s A Penguin Story.

  8. Speaking of living with a penguin, I’m quite fond of the new One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo and David Small.

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