Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Three Cheers for Tacky

Three Cheers for Tacky

Helen Lester
Illustrator:   Lynn Munsinger 
Picture Book  Series
For ages 4 to 7
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 1994   ISBN: 978-0395668412

Far away in a “nice icy land” there are six young penguins who go to school so that they can learn how to read, how to write, and how to do math. Five of the penguins are neat, tidy, well behaved, and properly proper. The sixth penguin is called Tacky, and he is the most bumbling, clumsy, messy, and ridiculous penguin you have ever seen.

One day the six penguins see a sign that invites all penguins to enter the Penguin Cheering Contest. The winning team will win “shiny blue bow ties!” There and then the six penguins decide that they have to try to win the contest.

When the five neat, tidy, and proper penguins try their routine after school, they execute their cheer perfectly the very first time. Then Tacky joins them and when he tries the routine, he flubs it. The other penguins tell him that if he wants to be on the team he has to “be exactly like the rest of us.” This sounds easy enough, but for Tacky moving with a “stiff upper beak” is challenging. To say the least.

By working extra hard, Tacky finally manages to execute the cheer, but there is a very real concern that Tacky is going to mess up their performance at the Penguin Cheering Contest.

Tacky is one of those book characters whom you cannot help liking. With his scruffy appearance, his goofy antics, and his laugh-out-loud funny mistakes, Tacky is the kind of underdog…er…underpenguin who will win you over every time.

In this Tacky the penguin title, Helen Lester’s clever text is perfectly paired with Lynn Munsinger’s delightfully funny illustrations. By the end of the story, readers who have not yet met Tacky will be his fans.