Markle, S., & Marks, A. (ill.) (2006). A mother’s journey. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN: 9781570916212
Annotation: This book follows a young female emperor penguin on her months long journey across Antarctica to fill up on food for the not yet hatched chick for which her mate is caring.
Reaction: Even though I know that emperor penguins surviving the way nature intended, there is something so sad to me about how mated pairs spend most of the year apart from each other, especially since there’s is always a chance one of them will never come home. The author provides lots of facts for the reader about these penguins, but she also gives us some poetry too: “the partners sing a last duet” when the female leaves on her hunting expedition. It’s hard not to romanticize the penguins’ relationship. Thankfully, though, the author refrains from personifying the animals and sticks to recounting what a typical journey for the females would be like.
The illustrations are realistic and Marks shows off the Antarctic landscape when given the opportunity. The image of the full moon over the broken ice where the females will hunt is vast and beautiful as is the line of penguins walking with the aurora at their backs a couple of pages earlier.
This book would be great as a part of a 5th or 6th grade science unit about oceanography and marine biology, which I remember studying in both those grades.
Media Used: Watercolor and ink