Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Curse of the Werepenguin

Woodrow, Allan. The Curse of the Werepenguin
August 13th 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers
ARC provided by publisher

Bolt Wattle has a horrible life in an orphanage, where his birthmark of a penguin sets him apart. He dreams of one day being reunited with his family, and when he is summoned by the Baron Chordata to come live in Brugaria, he is worried that his family won't be able to find him. During the trip there, he starts to think that maybe the Baron is his father, but when everything surrounding the Baron turns out to be creepy and alarming, Bolt has his doubts. Still, he is in Brugaria and not in the orphanage, so he struggles to make the best of a gloom-spewing "lowly housekeeper", a friendship with the local bandit's daughter, Annika, and the weird Baron himself, who looks to be Bolt's age. The countryside of Brugaria is rife with penguins, but also filled with whale supporting villagers, and Bolt learns a secret about the Chordata family the hard way. Will he be able to make his way in the castle, or will he succumb to the evil that lies within it?
Strengths: Woodrow is a solid writer of realistic fiction, and this is a departure for him. He has clearly studied books like The Wolves of Willoughby chase and understands the orphan-meets-evil trope. From there, he ups the game by working in penguins to the situation, creating the type of "silly horror book" that Bolt doesn't like! The use of goofy names and phrasing is consistent throughout the book, and the back stories all weave well together. The more I think about it, it's quite masterfully done, and the addition of spot illustrations adds another level of penguin horror.
Weaknesses: This is a bit on the long side due to the amount of brilliant description, making this a good choice for strong younger readers who want to laugh and be slightly scared in equal measure. This is most similar to Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, but sillier.
What I really think: This was very well done, but since I am currently eying the wonderful Philip Ardagh series A House Called Awful End for weeding because the need for Lemony Snicket read-alikes has disappeared in my library, I don't know that I will purchase it.

Do love a nice jacket, and now that I'm not coaching cross country, I don't have to wodge them up in my backpack on the way home from school! This one is very "headmistress at private school" but cost $2 at the thrift store; the sleeveless navy dress was $1. The giant elephant necklace is one of my favorites; I've had it for years.

For #ThrowbackThursday, here's a picture of me heading to my first day in the classroom-- in 1989!


  1. Love the photo! And the jacket. Hope the start of school is going well. Kids here go back next Wednesday. It's getting close...

  2. Hmm, this book looks like fun. Will have to see if our library system will get it. And you gotta love that '80's hair!

  3. Penguin horror. I'm going to have to find this book, because this just has to be seen to be believed!

  4. What a unique premise with penguins! Sounds like creepy fun :) .