A Penguin Named Patience, A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story – PPBF

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penTitle: A Penguin Named Patience, A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story

Written by: Suzanne Lewis

Illustrated by: Lisa Anchin

Published by: Sleeping Bear Press, 2015

Themes/Topics: Hurricane Katrina, penguins, rescuing, patience

Suitable for ages: 3-7


Patience knew something was terribly wrong.

It was dark and steamy hot inside her home at Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. Being an African penguin meant she was used to a warm climate, but not this warm!


This is a story based on the true events of what happened in the penguin aquarium in the New Orleans zoo after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Patience, the eldest of the penguins at 24, is the ‘penguin in charge.’ The hurricane causes extensive damage to particularly the aquariums at the zoo and with our electricity, temperature levels start to rise into the danger zones for these 19 penguins. Patience knows their beloved keeper Tom won’t let them down, but she struggles to stay calm, and you guessed it, patient, as Tom and other employees hurry to get the aquatic animals to safety.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California reaches out to the urgent pleas for help and offers to house the New Orleans penguins and some of the other zoo animals. Patience and the others whole world is turned upside down as Tom drives them to Baton Rouge where an awaiting plane flies them to California. Patience is very glad that Tom accompanies them all the way and helps his penguin pack settle in these unfamiliar surroundings. The nineteen penguins wait nine long months for their aquarium to be repaired and for them to be able to return home to New Orleans. But their patience is rewarded and they return to a big celebration.

Why I like This Book:

When I went to New Orleans in December I heard some amazing stories about Katrina, including some about animal rescues, but I hadn’t heard this one. It is colorful and playful and yet tells children of some of the plight that ALL the New Orleans residents went through after this devastating hurricane. The author sticks closely to the true story as her author’s note at the back of the book reveals. She mentions the FedEx red carpet return after nine months and indeed FedEx donated $100,000 and chartered a flight to bring the penguins home. Obviously children will enjoy the wordplay in Patience’s name and will feel some of the fear these penguins must have gone through.

The author’s note also tells us that Patience lived to be 25. an exceptionally old age for these small African penguins. Tom, the penguin zoo keeper is depicted as an adorable, dedicated penguin-lover and committed to doing whatever it takes to protect his ‘friends’. His character is very child-freindly.

The artwork is full of humor but with a beautiful array of penguin expressions from, fear and impatience to joy and relief. This is a great addition to books about penguins and natural disasters. And a great debut for author Suzanne Lewis. It links well also to my PPBF choices for the past two weeks which begin in zoos (I KNOW A BEAR and A BOY AND A JAGUAR).



Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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13 Responses to A Penguin Named Patience, A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story – PPBF

  1. What a beautiful rescue story that tugs at the heartstrings. I never heard about the penguin rescue. I am so glad children will read it. Nice review.

  2. Thanks for recommending this. From the creators to the story, it’s all new to me. That’s my favorite thing about PPB Fridays!

  3. Rachel says:

    Sounds like a lovely story and will help children understand the importance of being patient. I like that it’s based on a true story.

  4. Juliana Lee says:

    This is one of my favorite new books of the year. So happy to see it getting more attention!

  5. What a lovely story. How nice of FedEx to do that. It must have been weird being moved twice. I’m glad they remembered home.

  6. rhythm says:

    Well, Wow! What an incredible story! I never knew. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a beautiful story. Love these type of stories and the illustrations look lovely too. Thanks Joanna

  8. Wendy Greenley says:

    This would be a great mentor text for something I’m noodling with. Thanks for pointing it out!

  9. Joyce Tucker says:

    Thank you for sharing. This sounds like a wonderful story about how New Orleans has been helped since Katrina.

  10. This looks like a cool story. I really liked the one about the whales… guess I’m a sucker for animal rescue tales. Thanks for sharing your info-packed review.

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