Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Books We Love: “Penguin’s Hidden Talent” and “The Boy Who Cried Ninja”

My daughter and I are already familiar with the very talented author/illustrator Alex Latimer from his first picture book, The Boy Who Cried Ninja, a witty updating of Aesop’s boy who cried “wolf.” His new book (available for pre-order), Penguin's Hidden Talent is another winner.

In The Boy Who Cried Ninja, Tim’s mom asks him what happened to the last piece of cake. He tells her that it was a ninja. Tim is then befuddled by an astronaut, a giant squid, a crocodile, and a time-traveling monkey before he can convince anyone to believe him. Latimer’s work is tailor-made for a “read to” book, as his sense of humor works on more than one level; and his understanding of a child’s wild imagination is spot-on.

Penguin’s Hidden Talent is another book best read aloud. Julia and I had fun pointing out all the wry details in Latimer’s illustrations (I noticed a few she didn’t and vice-versa). Penguin’s Hidden Talent speaks to a basic truism: we’re all good at something. The backdrop of a local talent show sets the stage for Penguin to experiment until he finds that special talent all his own. Turns out, Penguin’s talent is planning the talent show itself. Penguin arranges for fireworks, jets, even the King of Norway to appear at the opening ceremony.

The point is made when Penguin’s grateful friends try and throw him a thank-you party and it’s the lamest party ever, though Julia didn’t understand why having someone’s grandma as a guest speaker would be a bad thing. After a few phone calls, Penguin is able to turn the dud event into a dream of a party. The important point is made: we’re all good, even great at something. The secret to life is to find out what that is and do it with gusto.

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed these books. They’re witty, fresh, and the illustrations are funny yet sweet. They’re seemingly simple yet filled with personality, like the stories themselves.


  1. I love children's books & illustrators. thanks for sharing & dropping by! I look forward to our connections.

    1. That's great to hear. Hope you're a regular.