While other penguins are off being penguins, Chilly da Vinci occupies his time by inventing. However, his newest invention proves to be a disaster, and soon him and the other penguins are stranded at sea with a hungry orca nipping at their short tails. Now, Chilly must invent his best contraption to date to get the penguins back home or risk becoming a sea snack.
Chilly is an adorable character as he learns the importance of perseverance during the creative process. Author and illustrator Jarrett Rutland has brilliantly captured his self-doubt by forcing him into such a high stakes situation. His frustration is palpable on the page in a way that makes the reader want to cheer him on.
There are a few small issues. Chilly deals with a bully named Vinnie, and the similarity between the names Vinnie and da Vinci creates a bump in the text in a couple of spots. The story is formed from Chilly’s notes, which can, at times, feel clunky and removed from the action. However, the story itself is sound and most of the text works.
Aside from Chilly himself, the star of this book is the illustrations. Rutland has created watercolor spreads with lush blues crashing against white that perfectly evoke the penguins’ habitat. When the action turns to Chilly’s designs, the palette dulls and the style shifts with allusions to Leonardo da Vinci’s own work. It’s highly effective.
This is a wonderful picture book examination of how some failures can lead to eventual success.
Note: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley.