Book Title: Pengwee’s Breath
Author: Debbie Nutley
Illustrations: Alexandra Rusu
Publisher & Year: Purple Green Press, 2021
Intended Age: 3-7 years

Topic/Themes: Emotions, Animals (Fictional), Winter

Opening Lines: “Penguin families across the world traveled to the annual Ice Festival.”

Synopsis (from back cover): “PENGWEE’S BREATH is a tender-hearted story of a young penguin who learns that his own breath gives him the power to calm his fears.

As Pengwee prepares for a fun-packed day at the Ice Festval, he is both excited and a little anxious. Thinking about big rides makes Pengwee feel like there are snowstorms in his tummy and clouds in his head. And the biggest ride of all is the Ice Monster, which Pengwee’s best friend Ruby wants Pengwe to ride with her.

Through Pengwee’s adventure in overcoming his fears, children learn that simple breathing techniques can change the way they experience the world. Basic concepts of mindfulness for kids and breathing techniques to calm children.”

What I love about this book: Pengwee’s journey to overcome his fears is one that will resonate with young children, along with Alexandra’s vivid illustrations. The use of weather indicators to describe emotions, a breathing exercise called “Superpower Breath,” and the reasons why Pengwee imagines himself wearing a superhero cape will launch many interesting discussions. This book would also be a great mentor text for student writing of fictional narratives.


Before Reading: Brainstorm student responses to the following, “When I feel anxious, I….”

Reading: Show students the title and ask them what they see, think, and wonder about this book. Read the book aloud. Pause for discussion, as desired.

Art/Writing: Using this book as a mentor text, students can create their own fictional animal narratives. Have them choose an animal and a realistic setting. Then, brainstorm a problem and how it could be solved. Using Alexandra Rasu’s illustrations as inspiration, have students illustrate their story. Note how the illustrations are done in a dominant color (blue) which makes Pengwee’s yellow cape and red scarf really pop.

Have students write their own weather-inspired descriptions of emotions and illustrate. For example, “When I feel happy, it’s like there is sunny day in my heart.”

Students, alone or in groups, can design, illustrate and explain an amusement ride they would like to experience.

Social-Emotional Learning: Students are invited to bring stuffed animals to school (the stuffed animals can also serve as the inspiration for their narratives) and, placing the stuffed animal on their tummy, decide how taking superhero breaths makes them feel. Students can create capes for their stuffed animals and take a class photo.

Book Festival: Invite families and caregivers to a book festival where the book, student narratives, designs, and artwork are shared. Play “Stack the Ice Cubes” and serve icy treats.

Author Website/Activities:

This review is part of PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books. Organized and curated by author Susanna Leonard Hill, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. #PPBF

I bought this book after the author, Debbie Nutley, contacted me to write a review. Thanks for stopping by! Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.

Reflections on this Book:

After reading this book, I started wondering about how penguin’s breathe. and enjoyed this article:

So interesting that the range for a penguin to hold their breath underwater is under 6 to 20 minutes!

Did you ever wonder if penguins had knees? Well, now you’ll know.

Finally, I was interested in the etymology, morphology and phonology of the word “breath.”

What are you inspired to research today?

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