Free Friday: Penguin Cha Cha


In the Romping Chomping Park and Zoo, some mischievous penguins certainly know how to groove…

Meet Julia, an energetic girl with a passion for animals and a rhythm for dancing.  When she discovers that the penguins at the zoo have been keeping a huge secret about their amazing dance moves, she attempts to persuade her tuxedo friends to let her join in on the choreography.  After multiple disguises and the help of a few other wild animals, Julia finally gets to dance the cha cha of her dreams.


The author, illustrator, and salsa dancer Kristi Valient began working on this story after experimenting with drawing dancing penguins for fun.  The story came to her as a publisher became more interested in her adorable penguins that were considered Kristi’s unique artistic venture. From the twirls and flips, to the highly decorated costumes of these dancers, the illustrations look like they are hand drawn onto the paper.  The fine lines and blending of colors were actually done on a Wacom tablet with the Brush Creator; new computer illustrative technology used by artists for easier publication.  Penguin Cha Cha is one of the first books to be illustrated entirely by hand on a computer, but still looks like wonderful watercolors. This new movement of art involving technology will move in a more positive direction for publishers and illustrators due to the popularity of this tale.

I chose this book for Free Friday because it involves two of my favorite things- penguins and dancing.  I would recommend this book in a heartbeat for anyone enthusiastic about dance, from swing to ballet.  This book is a great read for young children interested in animals as each member of the zoo has their own secret talent.  Young readers delight in learning what is possible and what is impossible in delightful ways, such as when the zoo keeper checks on the penguins and seeing Julia in her penguin costume and believing all is well.  Readers will also love this book for its unique storyline and humorous characters, both wild and tamed.PenguinChaChaCover482x600cover

For future reading, I would recommend Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Angelina Ballerina, and Because of Winn-Dixie.



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