Booklist (January 1, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 9))
Grades K-3. Polite, bow-tie-and-suit-wearing Elliot is none too excited when his father suggests attending Family Fun Day at the aquarium. But once he is there, he is drawn to the Magellanic penguins, whose tidy black feather tuxedos with their proper posture remind Elliot of himself. So he decides to sneak one home in his backpack, under his father’s seemingly oblivious eye. Once home, Elliot and his new penguin pal dine on frozen anchovy pizzas, share Goldfish crackers, and skate on a mini ice rink in his room (created with a wading pool and hose)—all the while his father is blithely engaged with his atlas, maps, and charts and appears not to notice the goings-on. Small’s black-and-white line illustrations with pops of soft color are an artful blend of elegance, wit, and whimsy. They echo and complement the text and depict expressive characters, including the playful penguin. This charming picture book has many humorous details throughout, and kids will likely laugh out loud at the surprise ending—particularly for the father!