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'Puffin Peter' by Petr Horáček: An adventure with words

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Puffin Peter by Petr Horáček

Rating:
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"Puffin Peter" is the cleverly constructed tale by Petr Horáček about a puffin looking for his best friend. They are separated when a storm blows them apart. A helpful whale offers to help Peter in his search.

Peter soon finds out that when he describes his friend to the whale, he is not being specific enough. When he tells the whale that Paul is "funny and noisy," the whale takes him to a small island inhabited by parrots.

"Paul is not a parrot," Peter tells the whale. He explains that Paul's feathers are black and white. So the whale takes Peter to see some penguins -- who certainly fit the bill.

Little by little, they narrow down the choices but still find Paul by accident.

"Why didn't you tell me?" the whale cries.

"Tell you what?" Peter responds.

"That he's a puffin, just like you!" is the whale's answer.

And what a great way to open discussion with students about good description and what that should include. Peter starts out with just a description of Paul's personality. Was that enough? How would the students have described Paul? How would they describe their best friend (or dog, or mom or dad)?

The illustrations are worthy of notice. Horáček works in beautiful watercolor for much of the artwork. Here is what he has to say about his art:

"Yes, the technique I use in my artwork is pencil, watercolour, wax crayons and acrylic paint, but I also use a collage a lot.

The birds in this book are drawn with wax crayons, watercolours and acrylic. I then scratch with the other side of the brush through the paint into the wax layer. The beaks are painted separately on shiny paper and collaged in.

The whale is also painted separately and collaged into the picture. For the waves and rain I did indeed use masking fluid."

He is a thoughtful and talented artist, and his illustrations are a perfect fit for the superb quality of the narrative. Classroom teachers take note: this is a great picture book for teaching writing and description. For younger students? They'll just love the story!

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Candlewick Press for review purposes.

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