A Penguin Named Patience

A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

Patience is a South African penguin. She is small at roughly 6 pounds and approximately 20 inches tall; but at 24 years old, she is the "penguin in charge" of the penguin exhibit at New Orleans's Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hits, devastating the city and surrounding areas with its catastrophic winds and flooding. The aquarium is severely damaged. With no electricity or relief in sight, the temperature in the aquarium reaches dangerously high degrees, putting the penguins in peril. Patience, and the 18 other penguins, along with some of the other zoo animals, must leave their home and their favorite human, Tom, the penguin keeper. Tom drives his penguins to Baton Rouge where an airplane transfers them to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Here the penguins will recuperate and live until they can return home to New Orleans. After nine long months away from Tom and their home, the aquarium is finally restored. And Patience, who has been patient, and her penguins return to New Orleans to a cheering homecoming.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
$15.95 $15.95
$27.95 $27.95
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 3
Dewey 598.4709763/35
Lexile 550L
ATOS Reading Level 3.3
Guided Reading Level K
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781585368402), PDF (9781631886294), Hosted ebook (9781631886324)
Copyright 2015
Number of Pages 24, 30
Dimensions 10 x 10
Graphics Full-color illustrations
  • 2016-2017 Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Awards Nominee
  • 2015 Children's Picture Book Dscovery Prize Winner, Winner, 2015

Booklist Review - A Penguin Named Patience

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there is no electric power to the Audubon Aquarium, and the African penguin habitat becomes dangerously hot. The penguin-keeper arrives to soothe Patience and 18 other black-footed penguins, feed them, pack them into carriers, and travel with them by truck and plane to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Eventually, they all return to New Orleans. An appended note offers more information about the hurricane’s aftermath and the penguin rescue. Though classified as nonfiction, the text veers toward fiction at times, with mild anthropomorphism (“Patience tried to be patient”), playful descriptions of individual penguins (“Kohl was red hot. Bunny was jumpy”), and presumably invented speech from the penguin-keeper (“You’re all going on a long trip! You’ll meet new penguin friends”). Anchin’s line-and-wash illustrations are well conceived and endearing, but they support the humanizing tone of the text in the birds’ facial expressions and added eyebrows. Still, children will undoubtedly enjoy this picture book as an appealing story.

Kirkus Reviews - A Penguin Named Patience

A moving account of a colony of penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans that survived after Hurricane Katrina due to a dedicated staff and a host aquarium. In the opening scene, Patience is alone and looks concerned. Patience knows the air is getting hotter and wonders where the penguin keeper and his pail of sardines might be. The narrator’s voice is focused through Patience’s perspective and has a childlike simplicity, supplying just enough information about the aftereffects of the storm to convey the serious conditions without being frightening. The penguins are getting cranky, but Patience tries to “be patient.” This refrain will repeat throughout, for even after the penguin keeper arrives, Patience’s patience will be tried—especially when the penguins are moved to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and her dear keeper must return to New Orleans. Uncluttered watercolor illustrations keep the focus on the two main characters and capture the emotions between the two. Children will empathize with Patience’s feelings of uncertainty about the upheaval and separation. And they will feel jubilation when the colony finally arrives home, with Patience leading the way into the repaired aquarium. A satisfying animal survival story for the youngest set. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Publishers Weekly - A Penguin Named Patience

In an uplifting true story, Patience, the oldest African penguin at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans, tries to keep the other penguins safe during Hurricane Katrina. Finally, the penguin keeper arrives to transport the penguins to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where they stay for nine months before receiving a colorful reception when they arrive home. Lewis tends to anthropomorphize Patience (“In her cage, Patience was confused and worried. She was relieved to see the penguin keeper get on the plane, too”), and Anchin’s cartoons steer away from naturalism, giving the penguins recognizably mournful and gleeful reactions to events. Readers aren’t given much sense of the hurricane itself, so neither the stakes nor danger ever feel especially dire, but an author’s note offers additional background on both the disaster and the Audubon penguins.

A Penguin Names Patience - Coloring Page

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Author: Suzanne Lewis

Author Suzanne Lewis is a former art director, commercial photographer, and bookseller. She wrote her first children’s book after visiting the Audubon Aquarium and learning about Patience. Suzanne lives in Santa Rosa, California.

Illustrator: Lisa Anchin

Illustrator Lisa Anchin’s education includes an MFA from the School of Visual Arts’ Illustration Essay program. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is a contributor to the KidLit Artists blog.

Narrator: Tamara Ryan

Author/Illustrator biography
Full-color illustrations