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The Penguin Lessons

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  4,145 Ratings  ·  585 Reviews
"I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time."

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endl
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published November 5th 2015 by Michael Joseph
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Diane S ☔
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Proves the adage that large things can be found in small packages. Can refer to the less than 300 pages in this delightful book and the penguin, Juan Salvador who will touch and change the lives of many. He will soon make his way under your skin and into your heart, as he did mine. What an amazing experience for this author to have had in his youth.

So we lean about penguins but also the horror of industrial accidents, we see some of the Argentine country through the eyes of the author, a little
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I saw this book on many friends' pages and I felt this was a book I must read for myself. Penguin Lessons is 64 year old Michell's recollections of his time 40 years earlier as a house counselor in an Argentine boarding school, and, more importantly, the life lessons he learned from Juan Salvado the penguin.
In his 20s Michell desired to see the world. I suspect many people do as a means of finding oneself. He decided to apply for a position as a house counselor at a boarding school in Argentina
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am impressed by this book. It gave me much more than I expected. I picked it up because I had heard it was humorous. It certainly was. It is also well written. It has history, brings to the fore environmental issues and pulls at your heartstrings. What more do you want from a book?!

I am now in love with Magellanic penguins. Go take a peek at them on Google. Juan Salvador was just such a penguin, but what a penguin he was! He was a listener. He spoke with his eyes. Tell me, who got the better d
Cait • A Page with a View
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most heartwarming, funny, and adorable books I've ever read. I kind of fell in love with this little penguin...
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I saw the cover of “The Penguin Lessons,” I simply couldn’t resist reading it, and I’m glad I didn’t or I would have missed out on a great story.
Tom Mitchell’s true story chronicles his life during the early 1970s, when as a 23 year old from the U.K. he moved to Argentina to teach at a prestigious English-language college (and live the free-wheeling life of an unencumbered adventurer exploring South America). During a trip to the Uraguayan coast, he comes upon hundreds of Magellan penguins
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: Chrissie
This is an enchanting and beautifully written book, about an unusual relationship between a man and a penguin, and it's full of the glorious flavours of Argentina in the 1970s. I cannot give it a better review than Caren's - which is here....

My one add is to say if that you are concerned about animal welfare, you may want to skip the section dealing with the Argentinian cowboys.
Anita Vela
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lecturas-2016
Quería leer este libro desde que lo publicaron porque la sinopsis me atrapó por completo. Me encantan los animales y si juntamos; animales más mar… me ganas. Y la verdad que no me arrepiento de haberlo leído porque me ha encantando conocer la historia de Tom y conocer al pequeño Juan Salvado.

Tengo que resaltar que me ha gustado mucho la forma de escribir del autor y como te cuenta su historia, es muy cercana, alegre y a su vez contiene muchos detalles. También tiene momentos divertidos y otros
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a charming little book!

I picked this up simply because of the penguin on the cover (who can resist a cute penguin?) and i'm glad I did. The book is both comedic and silly, but in a sweet and heart warming way. The rather ridiculous chain of events that form the attempt, by a supremely English chap, to save the life of a penguin, are made even more humorous by the fact that it happens to be a true story. It has moments of incredible sadness, but even more of hope and compassion. The scene in
Rebecca Foster
Marley & Me with a penguin. Well, sort of. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit peeved at how this has been roped in for Christmas advertising on Goodreads. It would indeed make a good holiday gift for an animal-lover, but this emphasizes the twee aspects of what is otherwise a sweet if slight story about the author keeping a Magellanic penguin as a pet while he was teaching in an Argentina boarding school in the 1970s.

Michell, from England, was in his twenties when he set off on his South
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is an absolute gem of a book. It is the author's first book, although he is now in his mid-sixties. It is a sort of memoir of a time in his youth, in the 1970s, when he taught at an elite boarding school in Argentina. An Englishman, he noted that others of his ancestors had worked in far-flung parts of the British Empire in its glory days, but none had lived in South America. From an early age, he felt a strong pull from that continent and began to learn Spanish, on his own, to prepare for ...more
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Tom Michell has reached his twenties and seeks adventure. Heading to the South American continent to work at a prestigious boarding school in Argentina and dreams of travel and exploration. The country that he arrives in is turbulent and in the grip of military control and rampant inflation after the collapse of the Perón regime. The allure of travelling during the long summer holidays prompts him to acquire a motorbike, hoping to see the landscape at his own pace.

Time to live the dream. Except
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed this book about a penguin being rescued and smuggled into argentina and how he became a hit at the boarding school. its also a very heart warming piece of non fiction too.
Karen Mace
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hardback, tbr
This is such a gem of a book!! When i read the blurb and saw the cover I knew it was for me and it has been an absolutely delightful read!

It's a memoir of Tom Michell who, in his 20s in the 1970's, went travelling to Argentina to work in a boys boarding school so there were really interesting insights into the political side of South America at the time, but the main part of the story is how he encountered a Penguin on an oil slick covered beach and ends up adopting him to restore him to full he
What a charming memoir, featuring the adventures of a young Englishman in Argentina and the penguin he rescued/kidnapped off a Uruguayan beach in an ill-advised fit of conscience. I was particularly amused by the way that he managed to improvise his way through customs back to Argentina with the bird in tow. In our day of increased security, monkey shines like this are definitely a thing of the past. Michell was reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull when he discovered his penguin—Juan Salvador Gav ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I'm semi heartbroken right now oh Juan! A fun but also surprisingly substantial story of a man who saves a penguin caught in an oil slick that acts as a travel log, a look at Argentinian history and a call to protect the environment and the animals in it. Be warned, if you like me love penguins, your heart will probably be stolen by this one.
A mostly-true memoir set in 1975 in South America. John Michell is a young Englishman teaching at St. George's, an Argentinian boarding school college. He rescues a small penguin from an oil slick in Uruguay, and the adorable bird bonds with him. Won't leave him. Michell names the imprinted penguin Juan Salvador (John Saved) and shares his campus housing with him. The whole school grows to love the little fellow.

Audiobook narrated superbly by the English actor Bill Nighy.

There are a few videos
Tori Clare
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just a quick read. True story of an English guy who rescues a penguin from a stack of dead penguins on a beach in Uruguay, choked by an oil spillage. He then cleans it up (penguin, not beach), becomes its best pal (because it won't part with him) and takes it with him across the border into Argentina where he's a teacher in an international boarding school. The penguin, Juan Salvador, quickly becomes the school celeb and is loved by all until his passing (JS, not English guy).

A heart-warming tal
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’ll admit the penguin on the cover was what first attracted my attention to this book but, having read the synopsis, I was intrigued to read more - and I’m so glad I did! It is a heart warming tale of how Juan Salvador Pingüino came to be rescued from an oil slick then travelled from Uruguay to a boarding school in Argentina where he’s adopted by the staff and students alike.

The narrator for the story is the author, Tom Michell, and this is part recount, part story, part travelogue and entirely
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book to read on a Sunday afternoon it was only by chance seeing this book on a Goodreads ad that I read it I saw a cute little penguin out of the corner of my eye. I loved the adorable little sketches of Juan Salavdo the penguin through the book. I absolutely adore penguins I have them dotted all over my house soft toys,resin figures etc and this was just a heartwarming story about how a man saved a penguin from a oil spill in the 1970s, and kept him at an all boys school where ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great book for picking up and putting down, as I did when I read it at breakfast during a recent trip to Iceland; I'm not at my most sociable first thing in the morning!

This book is especially recommended if you need something lighter and more cheerful to alternate with (recover from) a more serious work.
Neil Plakcy
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Who told this guy that this could be a book? A blog post, maybe. But a book? There just isn't much substance here. "I learned about caring for people because of a penguin I adopted. But at the end I learned the penguin didn't care about me, it just wouldn't go back into the ocean by itself." The end.
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Reshma
It’s hard to resist this charming account of a young British man who went to Argentina in the 1970s and accidentally adopted a penguin. Michell is creditably thoughtful and empathetic in his assessments of the country and the environment, despite being a self-confessed irresponsible white boy. He evokes Juan Salvado, the penguin he saved from an oil spill, with great affection and vividness. The reader cannot help loving such a charismatic and fascinating creature. Michell admits that he and eve ...more
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Pengin Lessons

"All of a sudden I found I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because, as of that instant, he had a name and his name was Juan Salvador Pingüino, and with his name came a surge of hope and the beginning of a bond that would last a lifetime. That was the moment at which he became my penguin, and whatever the future held, we'd face it together."

As soon as I saw the hardcover of the book sitting on the bookstore, I knew I needed it. Plus the small illustratio
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Christmas present, as I'm known to be rather fond of penguins (to say the least!) and a super and inspired choice.

The author, as a young dedicated traveller, teaches in a public school in Argentina to fund the travelling. Whilst on his travels he rescues a stricken penguin, victim of an oil slick (his fellows all perished) in Uruguay. The story of how he cares for Jan Salvador(JS) the penguin, ultimately in his workplace and the resulting bond between them is priceless: at times very funny, p
Milý příběh o zachráněném tučňákovi, avšak bohužel docela neucelený, jen pár historek ze života s tučňákem a víc nic. Chybělo mi nějaké větší pozadí, vždyť život v Argentině musel být v té době hrozně napínavý; minimálně o přírodě se autor mohl rozepsat víc, tohle na zapamatovatelnou knížku nestačí.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When Random House asked if I would be interested in reviewing The Penguin Lessons, I immediately said yes.

I figured I would read an amusing tale about how debut author Tom Michell ended up with a penguin for a pet in 1970s Argentina, and everything that came along with that experience. What I didn't expect though, was just how deeply this book would end up moving me.

Michell takes us back to his early twenties, a time when he was working as a teacher at a boarding school for the elite in Argenti
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I initially selected this book for the quirkiness of the story - a teacher residing in an Argentinean boarding school with his pet penguin - but I soon become enthralled with the political backdrop.

Set in the mid 70's in the dying days of the final Peronist regime the book describes how soaring inflation impacted on the Argentinean people and tells in an understandable way, what happens when an economy overheats. As a teacher, our narration had a roof over his head, no rent to pay, 3 meals a day
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
Tom Michell grew up in southern England and wanted to travel. In his 20’s, he went to teach at a boys boarding school in Argentina so that he could make money and travel. This was at a time when Argentina’s dollar value fluctuated widely from day to day. He was given an advance of 1 million pesos and told to spend it all on anything he think he might need right away. Otherwise it wouldn’t buy as much the next day.

When the school was on breaks he got to travel. He went to Uruguay for a few days a
Sweet, endearing, heart-warming ... all true of Tom Mchell's book. Some would say it's cloying, saccarine, twee - let them. The rest of us can read this memoir of a Brit teaching in Argentina in the 1970's and enjoy it for what it is. To a degree it is a wish for a simpler time. The complexities of Argentinean politics he refers to (but does not explore at length - it's not that kind of book) indicate that life at the time was not simple and paradise-like, despite the exotic adventure of travell ...more
Apryl Anderson
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for a flat-out enjoyable read with a generous seasoning of laughter and tears, here’s a good bet. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside the head of those young expatriate types, Tom Michell expresses himself better than I. If you want some insight as to how you might change the world through intentional acts of kindness (random, though they seem at the time) trust me and grab a copy of The Penguin Lessons.

Although storytelling overshadows the moments of contemplation—fear
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“All of a sudden I found I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive, because, as of that instant, he had a name and his name was Juan Salvador Pinguino and with his name came a surge of hope and the beginning of a bond that would last a lifetime. That was the moment at which he became my penguin, and whatever the future held, we'd face it together.” 11 likes
“You can't release penguins on their own, the keeper explained. Like seal lions, some to that, they simply won't go without a fellow creature of their own kind; they won't leave.” 5 likes
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