The Naked penguin - HarperCollins Children's Books


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The Naked penguin by Kym Lardner with illustrations by his son Oliver Published by ABC Books PLOT • A black penguin is rejected by the other penguins who all have beautiful white patches on their chests. So the ‘naked’ penguin asks those around him he should do. Most are too busy, too silly or don't understand his problem. After feeling rejected by the other penguins, the little penguin decides to leave him. But as he leaves he observes other creatures who are different, yet happy. Finally his father confirms his ideas by telling him: 'Though you are different you are not less'. The final illustration shows our triumphant penguin iceskating with the others. His new confidence is not questioned.

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THEMES Self Confidence. Searching for answers. Parental encouragement. Facing social rebuffs. Looking past appearances. This book shows how a little thing like a different appearance need not shake a person’s confidence unless that person buys into it. Approval seeking does not make one happy but self-taught confidence, re-enforced by a loving parent, can make for a happy life.

WRITING STYLE The author has deliberately pared back the text, not to keep it simple for the reader, but to add to the simplicity of the message. The simple, short sentences open the reader to discover deeper emotional meanings in the illustrations. There is no need for strong description when the illustrations reveal so much of the landscape and the penguin’s feelings are so clearly revealed in his descriptions. The perspectives used by the illustrator say more than the text can (for example, the size of the blue whale juxtaposed with the size of the little penguin), which is why this close collaboration between father and son has worked so well. AUTHOR MOTIVATION • ‘I let my pencil and mind wander till something clicks. Such is the origin of this book. Playfully drawing penguins with bow ties and shirt fronts lead me to wonder what would become of a penguin without such formal attire. Would he be rejected and how would he resolve such a social hiccup? Meanings emerge, for the sincere writer, just through the process of working.’ KL AUTHOR /ILLUSTRATOR BACKGROUND In 1980 Margaret Hamilton (Hodder) was sent a rough sketch and a few words by a 23-year-old named Kym. She identified something important about its theme of altruism and concluded that Kym must be a woman. That book became The Sad Little Monster and the Jelly Bean Queen and Kym turned out to be just a sensitive young man working in a childcare centre. He later became a popular storyteller in schools, writing and illustrating three other books. He has made his living in this way for 28 years. He raised a son, Oliver, who matches his father's artistic skills and who illustrated this book for Kym, whose own technique had become too

painstaking. Oliver, with a computer, generated effects in minutes that would take Kym weeks. (Kym's other 4 works are now available in a bind up from ABC Books.) EDITORIAL COMMENT When we decided to republish Kym’s first books in a bind-up, I looked at his website to get some information about him as an author. On his website, Kym has a section of ‘unpublished books’ and there was the naked penguin. The simplicity of the message in this story was enormously appealing. Added to that were Kym’s illustrations and I have always loved his style of drawing and painting. When Oliver came on board as the illustrator, the project fell into place (Kym was concerned he would be unable to complete the pictures in a timely fashion). It’s great to see how the project has developed from Kym’s first ideas (and the tiny black-and-white dummy he initially sent for me to look at) to this very beautiful picture book. MARKETING & PROMOTION • A poster 700 x 510mm is available with the by-line 'Though you are different you are not less' • 1000 postcards, used as book launch invites, will be printed • Launch at Borders Bookshop in Melbourne STUDY NOTES Pretend you are the naked penguin and ask others what they think you should do. Explain to them why you feel bad then listen to their ideas before moving on to the next person. Did they give proper answers? Was it worth asking or would you prefer to work out what to do by yourself. Do

you have to learn everything on your own? Do you think by watching others who are happy being different you could learn to be that way? Do you want to be different? Why? Do you like being the same as everyone else? Should you be yourself? Why? Why isn’t the father penguin all black also? Are you different to your parents? Do you have to be the same as your parents to be happy? Do they need you to be like them in every way? Would they push you away if you were different? Do your parents help you learn about other people? How? Do you think having possessions like a bike makes people like you? Do you need things to make people like you? If you did not have a bike would you feel sad when others didn't want to play with you or would you find something else to do? Is a bike just fun on its own or is it better riding with friends? Is skating better with friends? Do you like to play alone? Are you in a gang? Do you know anyone who stays by themselves a lot? Do you talk to them? Do you leave them alone? Why? Why was the polar bear alone? Would you like to be in a submarine by yourself or with others? Why? Why do you think the whale didn't care what anyone thought of him? Do you know anybody like that? Do people tell you the wrong things sometimes like the seagulls? What sort of things do they tell you? Have you ever run away? Did it help you? Why? How do you feel when people don't play with you?

What does the penguin father mean when he says, ‘Though you are different, you are not less?’