Editorial Review: The Unusual Penguin by Madeleine MacRae

Editorial Review: The Unusual Penguin by Madeleine MacRae

After finding an egg all alone out in the snow, a penguin takes it back to her nest to raise it as her own. However, after the egg hatches, the mother penguin realizes that her little penguin is somewhat unusual compared to all the other ones.

The Unusual Penguin is a heartwarming children’s story by Madeleine MacRae filled with beautiful illustrations by Anna Fernandez. Similar to the fairy tale of The Ugly Duckling, the story is about a penguin who takes in an egg that she finds abandoned in the snow. She is overjoyed when the egg hatches and continues to love her little penguin boy despite the pronounced differences between him and the other penguins. These differences are even more apparent when the little penguin goes to school and has a hard time doing any of the things that come naturally to his classmates. Unfortunately, this results in the other penguins mocking him, which profoundly saddens the unusual penguin. However, his life changes one day when the unusual penguin is sitting apart from his friends and notices something in the sky.

The author, Madeleine MacRae, is a solo mom to her son Noah who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, so it’s clear to see where the inspiration for the story came from. In addition, Madeleine wrote the story of the unusual penguin in rhyming format, which adds to the tale’s charm. This writing style also makes the story captivating for younger readers while effectively conveying the book’s message. 

All children have times in their lives when they feel like they don’t fit in or get frustrated because they struggle with things their peers don’t struggle with. The Unusual Penguin makes it clear that they are not alone, and while it won’t always be easy, there is nothing wrong with being different. Although aimed at younger readers, the story is relatable to anyone who has ever wished that they could fit in with everyone around them. 

The full-page illustrations in The Unusual Penguin are very charming and really bring the story to life. Younger readers will love how adorable the penguins are depicted, and Anna Fernandez has done a marvelous job of giving all the birds expressive features. All of the illustrations are wonderful, but the one on the last page, in particular, captures the story’s essence and the message it conveys perfectly.

Overall, The Unusual Penguin is an excellent book for parents with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or anything else that might make them feel different from their peers. However, all children will be able to relate to how the unusual penguin feels and be inspired by its journey of self-discovery.