Stacks Image 259

Emperor penguin, Antarctica. Photographed by LSD

Smithsonian Q&A Penguins

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Smithsonian Q&A Penguins cover
This book about penguins was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution. Aimed at a family audience, it's great trick is to weave a coherent story that conveys pretty much all there is to know about penguins in the form of a series of questions and answers.

Published in the second half of 2007 in the USA by HarperCollins, the book was released in Australasia in late 2007 and early 2008.

For a taste of its style, check out the extract:

Extract


There are probably no creatures more universally loved than penguins; no creatures more instantly recognizable. From the plains of Arkansas to the headwaters of the Zambesi, people the world-over know penguins even though the vast majority have never seen a penguin and probably never will. But what do we really know about this animal that we have taken into our hearts if not our heads?

Penguins are in danger of becoming caricatures of themselves. The cartoonists have commandeered them as their icons for conformity and uniformity, for funny and awkward, for snow and ice. They walk like us. They swim like fish. They seem cute and cuddly. The reality, however, is that real penguins are not like that at all. They are surprisingly varied, remarkably agile, and they can be found living in deserts in some of the hottest climates of the world. Real penguins can be aggressive and their coats are stiff, unlike the fluffy coverings of toy penguins. Most of all, appearances to the contrary, they are neither mammals nor fish: Penguins are birds.