This pandemic is wild. It’s so awful on so many levels, and even though we’re faring better than I might have expected in our household, I still have the occasional breakdown. I mean, I’m human. I also have a strong-willed toddler. It’s all A LOT. But I’m trying really hard to document the good things, because there have been many good things, mostly surrounding all the extra time we’ve been spending as a family.
This year, Easter was different, seeing as we’re in quarantine and all. Luckily, thanks to my husband’s clearance shopping after Christmas, my own impulse purchases, and some souvenirs we picked up from our trip to Disney World, we had enough stuff in the “Sam Stash” that didn’t need to worry about what we’d be using to fill Sammy’s Easter basket.
One of my impulse purchases had been a book and a stuffed animal from the Kohl’s Cares for Kids collection. They publish nice editions of popular children’s books and coordinating stuffed toys for $5 a pop, the proceeds of which go to a charitable foundation. Over the years I’ve purchased oodles of the things. Sam’s got a whole slew of the books and stuffed characters, which is great, because unless your child’s favorite book ends up being made into a TV show or movie, it can be pretty hard to track down merchandise. My love of Salina Yoon’s Penguin books can be traced back to a purchase I made for my “niece” a few years ago- I loved the books so much that I bought myself copies waaaaay before Sammers was in the picture. Kohl’s isn’t giving me anything for saying nice things about these books and toys, I just happen to adore them. All of this is to say that on a trip to Kohl’s after the holidays to exchange something, I picked up a copy of Penguin Problems by Jory John (illustrated by Lane Smith) along with the corresponding plush because they were adorable.
Fast forward a few months and one pandemic later, and the book and penguin appeared in Sammy’s Easter basket. He LOVES them. It’s one of those books that once we finish it, he immediately demands that we read it again. And, in a fun twist, he’s actually named the stuffed penguin “Mortimer.” The name is mentioned in the book, but isn’t the main character or anything, but he now insists on taking Mortimer with him on our daily wagon rides. Mortimer wears a seat belt, like a responsible penguin.
What’s really funny about the book, though, is apparently the way I read it. The whole story is a penguin whining about their problems. Cold beaks, being chased by predators, you name it. Penguin life can be tough. (It’s got a Mo Willems pigeon vibe going on.) As I was reading it to Sam, my husband pointed out that I sounded “like the Lottery Dream Home guy.” He meant David Bromstad, of HGTV fame, and once it was mentioned, I couldn’t unhear it. For some reason, my complaining penguin voice shares uncanny similarities in cadence and tone with the upbeat TV host/designer. It’s weird. But it gets weirder. Further into the book, a walrus appears to drop some wisdom on our penguin friend. My walrus voice? It sounds just like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny. Why do I sound like two completely different dudes on TV while reading children’s books to my son? I haven’t the slightest. But I can’t stop… And I wouldn’t want to, because it’s fun. And right now, we all need extra fun.
I’d make a video of my read aloud, but I’m pretty sure that would be copyright infringement. Plus, I wouldn’t be making the video in any sort of educational capacity, as I’m not a librarian or teacher or daycare provider or anything. I’m just an overly theatrical read aloud parent. You’ll have to take my word for it, though- it’s ridiculous.
That all for now, Bookworms. I hope you’re finding joy in unexpected places. And, if you do happen to have kiddos in your lives, I sincerely hope you read aloud to them… With voices, of course.
You can totally still purchase Penguin Problems and plush from Kohl’s! The book selection changes seasonally, but as of today, the penguins are still out there. I believe Kohl’s is doing curbside pickup in a lot of places, but you can always order it to be delivered. I won’t make a commission, but who cares? *Technically if you click on the photo above it’ll take you to Amazon which would get me a commission, but that would cost you more and donate nothing to charity. It was just the easiest way I had to get a nice picture of the book into the post.*