Einstein the Penguin

Einstein the Penguin
Iona Rangeley and David Tazzyman
Harper Collins Children’s Books

Iona Rangeley’s seasonal debut novel is sheer delight. It begins one chilly December afternoon in the Stewart household when mum suggests a visit to London Zoo.

It’s an excursion like many family outings with disagreement about which animals to look at, things being rushed and time running out. In this instance running out almost before seeing the penguins, almost but not quite for suddenly the children, Imogen and Arthur, spot a small penguin that seems to want them to be its friend.

“Can we keep him?” begs Imogen to which Mum responds by addressing the penguin directly, “And you Mr Penguin, must come and stay with us whenever you like.”

Little does she expect that later that evening what should appear at their front door but said penguin complete with rucksack. There’s only one thing to do thinks Mr Stewart: invite him in for supper and so they do, on the understanding of course that they take him back to the zoo next day.

That’s the intention but the following morning this plan quickly unravels when the zoo report that none of their penguins is missing. Time for a bit of investigating it seems. The siblings discover that penguin’s name is Einstein and that he’s lost his penguin friend, Isaac; but where is Isaac now?

With Christmas drawing ever closer Einstein’s ‘temporary, take-each day-as-it-comes’ stay is extended with the children turning detective in earnest as they determine to discover Isaac’s whereabouts. Next stop is Edinburgh but then what? …

With plenty of suspense, superb characterisation, quirkiness and a compelling plot, this is much more than a Christmas read. It’s made all the more fun by plenty of David Tazzyman’s characteristic scribbly drawings.

I’d love to hear more of Einstein et al.