I was lucky enough to be sent a reading copy of this from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
Einstein the Penguin by Iona Rangeley, , illustrated by David Tazzyman, published by Harper Collins
This is such a feel good read, that culminates at Christmas so would be perfect for this time of year, but doesn’t centre or dwell on it AT ALL so could be read any other time of year just as happily.
Following a family trip to the zoo, the Stewarts are surprised (and really rather excited!) to find a penguin on their doorstep! But Einstein has travelled quite some distance on a personal mission – can wannabe-detective DCI Imogen Stewart and younger brother Arthur figure out what he’s doing, unravel the mystery and help their new penguin friend?
This is such a fun and heartwarming adventure, full of intrigue, humour and the mildest hint of danger (enough to create a bit of excitement and tension but safe enough not to scare!) It’s perfect for children ready for longer chapter books but not quite ready for the pace, action, drama, length or issues of full on middle grade yet.
The characters are so well-drawn and believable, with the family dynamics absolutely spot on; whether you’re a younger sibling, an older sibling or a parent you’ll see yourselves here! They’re clearly a loving, close family but that doesn’t mean there’s no bickering or disagreements and the scenes when they try to get everyone out the house on time made me laugh so much.
I also loved the way the story involves Mr and Mrs Stewart; I love a book that manages to include the grown ups in a non-intrusive but present way and this does that perfectly.
The children lead the way, keep some secrets, bribe each other on pain of telling mum and dad and dash off unattended on detective business, but Einstein isn’t a secret in himself which I thought was so refreshing. Likewise, I was really pleased to see Imogen and Arthur turn to their parents for help in the latter stages of their detective work, whilst still maintaining their authority over it. Mr and Mrs Stewart are involved on a strictly need to know basis and it creates the perfect balance.
Einstein himself is a fantastic character. There’s a hint of Paddington about him in both how he joins the family and in how loveable but not at all ‘cutesy’ he is. And what I really loved was just how expressive he was and how he had such a clear personality and character despite him not talking. I thought this was really well done and made for much more credible, humorous and interesting dynamics, interactions and scenes. It also allowed Imogen and Arthur to really shine as the main characters.
All in all this is a hugely enjoyable early chapter book, with a shrewd but warm depiction of family life in all its chaotic glory, characters who can’t fail to make you smile and an ending that is immensely satisfying and moving.
The copy I had didn’t include the illustrations but from what I’ve seen of them since, they add even more life, personality and humour to proceedings!
Have you read this yet?
This sounds so lovely!! A little bit like Paddington but with a penguin 🥰 xx
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This sounds wonderful, and I have a teacher in mind who I know would love this!
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It’s really fab! (I have to be totally honest and say some of the school scenes didn’t ring true but they’re so minimal it was easy to ignore!)