Penguin discussion guide



Author: Polly Dunbar

Illustrator: Polly Dunbar

Publisher: Walker Books

Synopsis: Ben is delighted when he rips open his present and finds a penguin inside. ‘Hello Penguin!’ says Ben. Penguin says nothing.

Ben tickles Penguin; he pulls his funniest face; he puts on a happy hat, sings a silly song and does a dizzy dance but Penguin refuses to say anything. It isn’t until a passing lion swallows Ben that Penguin finally says something… Ben discovers it was worth the wait.

Reasons for selection:

Discussion Points

Before reading:

Ask the children to bring in a favourite soft toy (or a photograph of one). Perhaps it is one they have had since they were very young. Encourage the children to talk about their toys.

Has anyone every seen a real penguin? What do you know about the way them. Can they fly? What colour are they? Where do they live? etc.

During reading;

First reading. Read expressively and encourage the children to talk about anything they enjoyed? Do they like Ben? Why? Why not?

Ben is initially disappointed because his Penguin won’t talk to him. Have you ever been disappointed with a present. What did you do? What do you think you should do when you are disappointed with a present?

Why do you think the Penguin refuses to talk when Ben tries to make him talk?

  • Look at the pictures of Ben. Can you tell what he is feeling in each of the pictures?
  • What clues help us understand what he is feeling? 
  • Look at the page ‘Ben got upset’ what do you notice about Ben’s eyes in these pictures? How are they different to the way his eyes are drawn in the other pictures? (Tip: use a piece of paper to mask your mouth and nose and make different exaggerated expressions. Can the children tell from your eyes alone how you are feeling? They can practice making expressions in pairs and observing the different shapes that eyes make.
  • Look at the picture of the lion on the page where Ben says ‘SAY SOMETHING’. Can you tell what they lion is thinking from the way that it’s eye has been drawn.

Do you think the lion is friendly or frightening? What makes you think that?

Why do you think Penguin bites the lion on the nose?

After reading:

Use the pictures in Penguin’s speech bubble to tell the story



Ben tries really hard to make the penguin laugh or talk... but Penguin says nothing.

What makes you laugh. Can we make each other laugh? Sit in a circle and try to do something to make everyone laugh.

In pairs, improvise a conversation between Ben and the penguin (one child is Ben and one is the penguin). Ben tries really hard to get the Penguin to smile, laugh or talk. You may want to model this with another adult first.

What adventures do you think Ben will have  next with his Penguin?


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These notes can be printed for use in the classroom.

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