This graphic novel for young readers features a penguin who lives in the zoo and a little yellow bird who often comes to visit. The two “feathered friends” interact throughout the nine short chapters of this full-color comic.

While narration describes the scenes, the two characters communicate without using any human words. Peep only says, “Peep,” and Penguin really doesn’t speak at all. Nevertheless, we are able to see how they help each other, share with one another, listen to each other, and otherwise act as good friends. When Peep is laughed at for wearing a silly hat, Penguin wears one too. When Penguin sees a balloon, Peep flies up to get it. The two animals share a fun and silly friendship that is reminiscent of pairs like Elephant and Piggie, or Narwhal and Jelly. The characters have distinctive traits that readers will enjoy getting to know. Each vignette in the book lasts only a few pages yet reveals a lot about the two best friends.

The full-color watercolor-style illustrations are soft and friendly in pastel shades. There are typically two to four cells per page with some full-page scenes, as well. There is minimal text per page making the story accessible to younger readers. The majority of the pages feature only Penguin and Peep with a rare appearance from some other birds and minimal scenery. Occasionally, words are used as part of the scenery. This is somewhat effective, though younger readers may not notice these background words. As the characters don’t speak, much of the characterization occurs through the illustrations. This is done effectively, as we are able to see Peep’s whimsical nature and joking ways, along with Penguin’s patience, despite a tendency to become frustrated at times. 

The episodic format of the book will help young readers sustain their interest while giving them the opportunity to infer character traits over the course of several stories with the same characters. Readers may even identify some of their own traits in the characters. Penguin & Peep: Feathered Friends will be a delightful addition to collections for early readers who will look forward to the next installment in the series. The book fits equally well on children’s graphic novel shelves or in the early readers section.

Penguin & Peep: Feathered Friends, Vol. 1
By Monica Bruenjes
Abrams, 2021
ISBN: 9780986053139

Publisher Age Rating: 6-9

NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9)

  • Kelly

    | She/Her Library Information Specialist, South Park Elementary School


    Kelly Jahng has studied English, history, and French, and taught middle school for sixteen years.She earned a masters in education along the way before changing hats and earning her MLIS at San Jose State University.She now works as the Library Information Specialist at South Park Elementary School in Deerfield, IL.She loves to collaborate with teachers in the school learning commons and to help students create in the makerspace.In her spare time, she loves to travel, enjoy theatre, read and review youth and YA literature, and write the occasional post for various blogs.

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