Review of The Penguin of Ilha Grande, by Shannon Earle, illustrated by Renato Alarcão

The Penguin of Ilha Grande

From Animal Rescue to Extraordinary Friendship

by Shannon Earle
illustrated by Renato Alarcão

Charlesbridge, 2023. 32 pages.
Review written March 14, 2023, from a library book
Starred Review

This picture book tells a sweet story that is also true about a man in Brazil who rescued a penguin covered with oil — and then that penguin became his devoted friend.

His grandson named the penguin Dindim, and after Dindim was strong and recovered enough Seu João tried to set him free, back in the ocean. But Dindim kept coming back.

In February, Dindim finally did leave, and we see Seu João missing all the daily activities where the penguin used to accompany him. But four months later, he was back.

Dindim lived with Seu João for seven years. They swam together, showered together, ate together, and walked on the beach together.

Each year, Dindim changed his feathers, honked goodbye, and headed to sea. For four months, he lived in the wild. No one knows exactly where he went. But every year, right before Seu João’s birthday in June, Dindim came home.

Part of what makes this book so sweet are the pictures of the adorable penguin and his friend in the beautiful setting by the ocean. I mean, creatures don’t get more adorable than penguins, and these pictures are a delight.

This is one of those books that it’s tricky to decide where to shelve it in the library. It tells a true story, so it’s nonfiction. But it’s also a picture book for an early elementary audience, so we hope young kids will find it when browsing. I hope those who read this will make a point of looking for it!

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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