Chilly da Vinci by Jarrett Rutland

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.

Title: Chilly da Vinci
Author/Illustrator: Jarrett Rutland
Publisher: NorthSouth Books
Publication Date: December 04, 2018
Classification: Picture Book

Rutland’s Website | Publisher’s Page | Goodreads

Note: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley.


  1. I loved your review. I think this would be a fun book to read with kids. Illustrations can make or break a picture book. I’m glad this is a winner. Sometimes author/illustrator combination works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have to agree about the name confusion. That sometimes happens to me with an adult book, and I think what a mistake the author made in having characters with similar names. Just no reason to do that. I think that holds even more true for children’s books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love when the author/illustrator combination works, because then it’s just the perfect blend of ideas. It’s like the best collaborating partner.

      Names are definitely one of the few things I have “rules” about when reading a book. If I get characters confused because of name similarities, then I’m completely pulled from the story.

      Liked by 1 person

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