Title: A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story
Author: Suzanne Lewis
Illustrator: Lisa Anchin
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Story Element #5 THEME Theme is generally thought of as the topic of a story. It can usually be summed up in just one or two word (new baby, moving, friendship, first day of school, hard work, forgiveness, sharing etc.) Themes are global feelings or characteristics that can be grouped together in large categories, but which can take on many different forms in storytelling. So if you’re looking for a book with a particular theme, say bullying, you can find several books which address that particular theme.
Many children’s books give a clue to the theme right on the cover. This one is no different. We can see from the title and the picture this is about a penguin named Patience who survived Hurricane Katrina. Right away we figure it’s about patience and survival.
Most stories have multiple themes. There are major and minor themes. In A Penguin Named Patience the major themes are certainly patience and survival. Minor themes are friendship, hope, trust, and celebration.
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of New Orleans, other parts of the city were affected as well. Many places were flooded when levees burst. Others lost electricity for hours, days, and even weeks. One of those places was the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, home to Patience and many other aquatic animals.
Patience was the oldest penguin in the aquarium and she felt it was her job to keep all the others in line, but it was dark and dangerously hot in the aquarium. Patience didn’t think she could last much longer. Then she saw a flashlight shining and her friend, Tom. Tom worked to cool the penguins as much as possible. He fed them and stayed with them until arrangements were made to send them away. Patience was afraid of leaving her home, but Tom promised that he would help them get settled and bring them back as soon as he could. Nineteen penguins were shipped to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. Tom stayed with the penguins in Monterey until they were out of quarantine. Then he had to say good-bye. Patience was sad to see him leave, but she was happy to be in a cool aquarium again and she was making new friends. It took nine months to repair their aquarium in New Orleans, but when it was ready, Tom returned to take Patience and the other eighteen penguins home again. FedEx flew the penguins home and when they arrived FedEx rolled out a carpet and had a marching band playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ as Patience and the rest of the penguins paraded into their new home.
Sometimes the theme of the story can be summed up as the moral of the story. In A Penguin Named Patience, the moral of the story might be ‘Good things will happen if you have trust and patience.’