Mr Penguin

JAB South


Today, members of JAB South met to discuss the books that they have been reading this term. Out two books were 'Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure' by Alex T Smith and 'They Didn't Teach Us This in Worm School' by Simone Lia.


Teas and hot chocolates made, packets of biscuits opened, we were ready to settle down to the wonderful business of discussing books. We started with 'Mr Penguin'- which we all loved. It's a great first chapter book, perfect for engaging the reader, and giving them a satisfying, beautiful book to carry round. One colleague said, 'For a Year 2 teacher, it's bang on!'


Funny for both adults and children, it was agreed that 'Mr Penguin' would also make an excellent read aloud. Colin, Mr Penguin's spider sidekick, was a huge hit-so funny!- and everybody loved the illustrations. 

Everyone also felt that it could also be used as a Quality Text, offering lots of opportunities for inspiring writing and developing vocabulary whilst be great fun so we have decided to work on creating this! So well done, Mr Smith- a huge hit! 


'They Didn't Teach this at Worm School' was one of our shortlisted titles in last year's awards. Several of our members have now read this to classes and it has been a great success. Not only is it a very funny story with wonderfully comic illustrations, it also is a lovely story about friendship and coming to understand others. It was felt that this is a read aloud that can be enjoyed with a whole range of classes as different aged children will respond differently.  Great fun! 


We finished the session by choosing our books for our next meeting. 'The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole' by Michelle Cuevas and 'Kick' by Mitch Johnson. We might need tissues...

It was a lovely meeting. The time races past and all too soon we're heading off again! If anyone would like to join us, please email for details about when and where! 

Alex T Smith at the Bath Festival


On Sunday, I had a wonderful time listening to Alex T Smith, talking about drawing Claude... and Mr Penguin!


Alex told us that he has always loved drawing and that his earliest memories are of drawing. His parents used to make sure they always had a little sketchbook with them so that he could draw whenever they were waiting for something. All that practise obviously paid off!


Alex drew one of his dogs- Betty Lou, the smallest-and told us how much he loves animals and how this inspires him to draw them. He also spoke with huge affection about the time he spent with his grandfather when he was young. Once Alex started school, his grandfather would leave little books for him each day, telling stories of the adventures Alex's toys were having whilst he was at school.


Alex then introduced us to his new character- Mr Penguin- who is a cross between Indiana Jones and Hercule Poirot. Alex read us a couple of chapters of this wonderfully humorous and brilliantly illustrated story and I think the entire audience fell in love with Mr Penguin there and then!


Next, it was time to draw! Children- and adults- all carefully followed Alex's instructions as he took us through how to draw Mr Penguin and Colin, his silent sidekick, step by step! The children in the audience did really well!

Luckily, there is going to be a series about these lovely characters as I've just finished ' Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure' and can't wait for their next adventure!


'The Adventures of the Egg Box Dragon' was another story Alex has recently illustrated. This was written by Richard Adams of 'Watership Down' fame. This was his only picture book and Alex's amazing illustrations really bring the story to life. 

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure  Alex T Smith 

Hodder Children's Books   ISBN: 978-1444932065

The Adventures of the Egg Box Dragon  by Richard Adams, illustrated by Alex T Smith

Hodder Children's Books   ISBN:978-1444938401