The Second Sky
Little Hare, 2017
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Down in the depths of Antarctica an egg cracks open and little Gilbert the penguin looks up through the opening and sees the sky for the first time. Above him the moon glows, the stars sparkle and the birds wheeled. Gilbert knew where he wanted to be…. soaring high through the heavens with the storm petrels, the shearwaters and the mighty wandering albatross.
But even though his big clumsy feet and small fluffy wings weren’t made for flying, he tried and tried and tried. But all to no avail. Even as his fluffy down gave way to feathers, he kept trying – waddling and flapping, waddling and flapping and each time ending up on the ice, not in the sky. He didn’t listen to Aunty Anchovy and the other family members who told him to give up. He persisted, becoming even more determined the day he saw the wandering albatross soar and glide…
Set aside the messages of the need to practice, persistence and resilience that Gilbert’s story encourages and just bask in the wonder of the words and the beauty of the illustrations of this charming story of a penguin who clearly missed the memo about the place of penguins in the world. Young readers will LOL as Gilbert tries to follow his dream and empathise with his belief that it’s just a matter of time and he will master flight as he gets older and stronger – just as they will get more co-ordinated and balanced as they grow.
This is a delightful story about reaching for the stars, but when that dream doesn’t come true there can be something even better in the substitute.
Nominated as a 2018 CBCA Notable for both the Early Childhood and Picture Book categories, it thoroughly deserves its place in both.
Teachers’ notes are available.