The best books about Emperor penguins

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Emperor penguins and why they recommend each book.

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The Emperor Lays an Egg

By Brenda Z. Guiberson, Joan Paley (illustrator),

Book cover of The Emperor Lays an Egg

This charming book gives a very comprehensive overview of the life and breeding cycle of the Emperor penguin. And it does so in simple - but entertaining - language, making the information very accessible for younger children. The large, graphic illustrations on each page are very eye-catching, and are sure to engage young children. (Even younger than the recommended age range for this book.) While this book talks about the many challenges that both parents face during the long breeding season, it focuses more on the male penguin’s job of incubating and protecting the egg while his mate is off at sea for two months. (The next book on this list focuses on the female penguin’s job during the breeding season.) Best for ages 4-8.


Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!


I wrote...

All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

By Dyan deNapoli,

Book cover of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

What is my book about?

All About Penguins is a beautifully illustrated book for young children about the basic biology and behavior of penguins. Fascinating facts about the penguin’s life cycle, how they swim, hunt, hide from predators, raise their chicks, and more are covered in concise, yet detailed and engaging text. The book includes a glossary, call-out boxes, range map, and a fun trivia section about each penguin species. (And it definitively answers the age-old question; “Do penguins have knees?”)

This book has been enthusiastically endorsed by renowned penguin expert and author Lloyd Spencer Davis, who said, “All About Penguins is so beautiful and so stuffed with facts that it resembles a krill-filled penguin.” Best for ages 4-8.

A Mother's Journey

By Sandra Markle, Alan Marks (illustrator),

Book cover of A Mother's Journey

This captivating book details the female Emperor penguin’s extraordinary journey during the long breeding season. In gorgeous prose - that includes detailed information very rarely found in other children’s books about this species - author Sandra Markle shares remarkable insights about the many challenges faced by the female Emperor penguin in preparation for raising her chick. This includes a long trek across sea-ice to the open ocean, where she hunts for two months to fill her belly with food for her soon-to-be-born chick. The beautiful illustrations help young readers visualize the many different aspects of her journey. I can guarantee that nearly every adult who reads this book with their children or students will also learn many details about Emperor penguins that they didn’t know before. Best for ages 4-8.


Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!


I wrote...

All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

By Dyan deNapoli,

Book cover of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

What is my book about?

All About Penguins is a beautifully illustrated book for young children about the basic biology and behavior of penguins. Fascinating facts about the penguin’s life cycle, how they swim, hunt, hide from predators, raise their chicks, and more are covered in concise, yet detailed and engaging text. The book includes a glossary, call-out boxes, range map, and a fun trivia section about each penguin species. (And it definitively answers the age-old question; “Do penguins have knees?”)

This book has been enthusiastically endorsed by renowned penguin expert and author Lloyd Spencer Davis, who said, “All About Penguins is so beautiful and so stuffed with facts that it resembles a krill-filled penguin.” Best for ages 4-8.

Penguins and Antarctica

By Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce, Sal Murdocca (illustrator)

Book cover of Penguins and Antarctica

As a fan of the Magic Tree House series, I love the way that this nonfiction book weaves great information with illustrations and photographs in a fun-to-read format. This title will be a hit with animal lovers, whether they are curious about the daily lives of penguins in Antarctica or why krill are so important to the food web here. Adventure seekers will revel in the daring exploits of explorers from the past. They’ll also learn about what it’s like to visit Antarctica today. The additional resources in the back of the book looked terrific and made me want to explore more of this frozen continent.


Who am I?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.


I wrote...

Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

By Alicia Klepeis, Grace Helmer (illustrator), Gestalten (editor)

Book cover of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

What is my book about?

Penguins and polar bears never get to meet—except maybe at the zoo! But what else is there to know about the Arctic and Antarctica, two of our planet’s most mysterious, fascinating, and vulnerable regions?

Penguins and Polar Bears takes the reader on an adventure to the ends of the world, exploring the land, as well as the the unique and resilient animals and plants to be found at the North and South Poles. You’ll dive into the chilly oceans, skim over the brightest ice sheets, and meet the incredible people who live and work in these regions. So pack your warmest clothes and get ready for a very cool journey!

Penguins! Strange and Wonderful

By Laurence Pringle, Meryl Learnihan Henderson (illustrator),

Book cover of Penguins! Strange and Wonderful

This wonderful book is informative, very comprehensive, and visually stunning. It covers everything from the first recorded penguins, to their locations, their feeding and breeding behaviors, their predators, and the various threats to penguins - both historically and in the present. But this is in no way a dry, “just the facts, ma'am” book about penguins. The scientific information about penguin biology and behavior is told in a very engaging way, and it is enhanced by absolutely gorgeous and lifelike watercolor illustrations. This book provides a thorough, age-appropriate overview of the lives of penguins, and is one of my favorite books for both the content and the beautiful illustrations. Best for ages 7-10.


Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!


I wrote...

All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

By Dyan deNapoli,

Book cover of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

What is my book about?

All About Penguins is a beautifully illustrated book for young children about the basic biology and behavior of penguins. Fascinating facts about the penguin’s life cycle, how they swim, hunt, hide from predators, raise their chicks, and more are covered in concise, yet detailed and engaging text. The book includes a glossary, call-out boxes, range map, and a fun trivia section about each penguin species. (And it definitively answers the age-old question; “Do penguins have knees?”)

This book has been enthusiastically endorsed by renowned penguin expert and author Lloyd Spencer Davis, who said, “All About Penguins is so beautiful and so stuffed with facts that it resembles a krill-filled penguin.” Best for ages 4-8.

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