Based on the true story of penguins who have been caught in the middle of an oil spill, Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters! is an interesting story about when humans cause damage to the penguin’s environment and well-meaning humans try to help by knitting sweaters for them. However, this causes other issues to occur. As the author, Marikka Tamura, informed us with their title, penguins don’t wear sweaters and for a good reason.
The illustrations of Daniel Rieley are clever, colorful and read right along with the text. There are some clever details hidden in them (one penguin is wearing the Penguin emblem of the publisher on its sweater). The text is told almost from the point of view of the penguins and it is told very simply with not a lot of unneeded flourishes. There is a slight poetic note to the text as well. The images of The Big Boots putting sweaters on the penguins bring to mind “Happy Feet” messages. Thankfully, people learn that penguins do not wear sweaters and why. The people realize things about penguins that were not (but is now) common knowledge. There is more information at the end of the book about the background to why people knitted sweaters, the authors involvement and how you can still knit sweaters to raise money and help educate the public about penguins and help the penguins in the process.
A good read-aloud for the preschool set, this book would be a good way to introduce penguins or environmentalism to the younger generation.