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Tacky the Penguin


4.27  ·  Rating details ·  10,646 ratings  ·  474 reviews
Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published August 17th 1990 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published April 25th 1988)
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Joe It is a wacky story about how a very odd penguin outwitted three hunters and saved his friends. It's short and meant for kids. I read it as a kid, but…moreIt is a wacky story about how a very odd penguin outwitted three hunters and saved his friends. It's short and meant for kids. I read it as a kid, but would definitely still consider it "modern" by the standards of children's books(less)

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4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,646 ratings  ·  474 reviews

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Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Lisa Vegan
Aug 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all young children, especially those who feel self conscious about being different in any way
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
This is a mildly funny and sweet story about an unconventional penguin and his conformist peers.

For me, the names of all the penguins were the most amusing part of the book.

This book has some good messages: that being odd or different and being your own person can be a huge positive, and that it’s worth it to make friends with those who might, on the surface, seem weird in any way. It could make a great read aloud book for groups of children to discourage them from ostracizing anybody. Along wit
Lauren Young
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read children's picture books but this one was just so cute and funny! My coach gave all of the girls on my basketball team a copy of this book. She read it to us during practice one day and we even named our mascot after Tacky. My coach wanted us to know that being different is a good thing, especially when it saves your companions from being captured by hunters :)
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a great book to show that being different is a good thing. Tacky is an odd bird among his companion penguins, Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect. They did everything right. They marched at a perfect beat while Tacky did his own thing. They sang with beautiful voices while Tacky sang his own off-key song. They were always thinking how different he was and why he wasn't like them. Well when hunters came looking to find the perfect penguins, Tacky came to the rescue. Because he was ...more
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: z_10, picture-books
Tacky is an odd bird.

Yeah, I just don't dig it. Perhaps that's why none of the kindergarteners this year and last seemed to dig it either. Can you sense ambivalence? I tried it last year when I was trying to build my kindergarten readaloud list (so many places recommend it) and it bombed a bit. Same thing happened this year. Yes, I put energy into my reading.

Tacky's an interesting characters, one with lots of promise. However, I didn't find the book funny. The plots a little odd. I don't parti
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, childrens-books
My son loves this book. He's a reluctant reader, but he reads this one multiple times a day. He even read it to his father while his father was doing the dishes so that his father could "imagine the pictures."
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester tells the story of Tacky, a very different penguin than his friends. His friends are named Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect. It's obvious right away just by his name that Tacky doesn't fit in. As you read about Tacky, he does everything different than the other penguins. They dive gracefully, but Tacky cannon balls in. They march in step, and Tacky is all over the place. One day though, hunters come to where the penguins live looking to trap them for m ...more
Alyssa Cool
Tacky the Penguin follows the life of a penguin that is different. Tacky does everything the other penguins do but just a little bit differently. Tacky is never accepted by the other penguin’s because they think that it’s there way or the highway. One day when trouble comes Tacky’s differences are what saves the Penguins. The other penguins are astonished and finally accept Tacky as one of their fellow Penguins. This book would be perfect to teach students the idea of acceptance. It is very impo ...more
This book was about a penguin who marches to his own drummer. A good book to use to teach kids it's ok to be different, very funny, kids loved it.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
If you read it in a crazy voice children will fall in love with this book. Last year's class would sing "How many toes does a fish have?" at recess. Go figure.
Joseph S 8B
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really funny and good for kids with a mindset of a 5 year old
Katie Lambrix
Tacky is most definitely one of my favorite characters from children's literature. I suppose I should start by saying that if it were possible to have a fictional spirit animal, Tacky would probably be mine. He is a bit odd. He does not quite fit in with the other pretty penguins. He marches to the beat of his own drum (1-2-3, 4-2, 3-6-0, 2 1/2, 0). Nonetheless, Tacky always turns out to be a good bird to have around.

For my full review (with cat picture!), visit my blog:
Luisa Knight
Ages: 4 - 8

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it!

Visit my website!
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Adorable and funny. Just be yourself and don't worry about whether you "fit in" or not. A very sweet book.
Daciana Washburn
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
We laughed as we listened to the audio 😆
Elisabeth Shannon
Tacky the silly penguin

Tacky is silly and funny. It’s a good book that kids laugh at. It’s nice to realize that it’s ok to be silly and odd because you can still be a good friend.
Leigh Triplett
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ga-pre-k-books
This book teaches children that it is okay to be different. It has fun colorful pictures and repeating lines that the children could learn, for an interaction piece. Tacky even dresses different than the other penguins which I thought was a unique twist on being different.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ga-pre-k
You should never judge a book by its cover! To his friends, he seemed odd but his "odd" behavior wound up saving them. This book teaches children to treat others how you would want to be treated. Great message for young children!

Amy Buthelezi
This story teaches young children that it is okay to be different and unique. It shows that it does not matter what someone looks like, but rather how selfless, brave, and kind he or she is. This story also introduces suspense, rhyming, and a variety of vocabulary words.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, is the first of a series of books about Tacky (a nonconformist) and his graceful, well-behaved companions: Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect. TAcky's behavior, loud Hawaiian shirts, loud singing, & splashy cannonball dives initially puts off his companions. But when the hunters arrive, it's Tacky's antics that save the day.

This is ome of my favorite funny read-alouds. Kids enjoy the loud, slightly obnoxious behavior o
Oh, cute! I like this one by the author of "Hooway for Wodney!" Really cute story. And I like the pictures, too. And a nice little moral tucked inside.

6/22/10 & 6/24/10 Fabulous choice for storytime! They loved it. And I had such fun reading the narration, doing voices, and "singing" the songs. I think the children were highly entertained by my reading. (I entertained myself!) And I believe they enjoyed the story, too.

4/18/12 Wonderful wind-up to my Adventures! theme. Of course, it would hav
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
We introduced this "finale`" story this way...

Everybody stand up
Now... tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tap, tapioca everybody -- FREEZE! (tapping toes or heels)
Now let's slap-slap, slap-slap, slap-slap, slapioca everybody -- FREEZE! (slapping thighs)
Now let's clap-clap, clap-clap, clap-clap, clapioca everybody -- FREEZE! (clapping hands)
Now let's flap-flap, flap-flap, flap-flap, flapioca everybody -- FREEZE (slapping sides)
Last time -- tap-tap, tap-tap, tap-tap, tapioca everybody -- FREEZE! (tapping toes
Oct 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Tacky the Penguin is a great book to read aloud but is even better to listen to on CD. This is great for ages 4-8 and the illustrations capture the mood of each penguin in a whimsical and colorful way. Helen Lester does a great job bringing Tacky, a loud odd penguin to life. Tacky lives with a group of five formal and proper penguins but Tacky is nothing like them. His antics confuse his friends until one day they hear a thump…thump…thump. In this book you will find out how a loud, odd penguin s ...more
Christy Brown
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a nice book. I liked that Tacky danced to the beat of his own drum. I find that people have a hard time in doing this. I liked how his personality came through in his actions. I also liked that in the end it was Tacky that saved the day and the others were grateful for what he did. It shows that everyone has a special quality and it just takes the right time for it to come to light for others to see it. I really just like penguins in general so pretty much any story about the ...more
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
The message "it's okay to be different" is a popular one in the world of picture books. Unfortunately, it's usually paired with vivid examples of people harassing the different person - comes a point in Rudolph, for example, where I wonder why the red-nosed reindeer agreed to help any of them!

Tacky manages to avoid that. Tacky is different from the other penguins, and doesn't fit in, but they don't go out of their way to make him feel bad for that. And then, of course, his differences go on to s
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Features: repetition, interesting pictures with facial expression. There's singing, so it makes it fun to do the voices. Fun read!

Moral: it's good to be different or to be tolerant of others' differences.
Tamara GTC
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a great read especially when dealing with diversity of any kind. Everyone is their own individual and should not be placed in the same category even if of the same religion, ethnicity,etc. Tacky was deffinetly an odd penguin but in the end he saved the day and was so loveable.
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tacky was an odd bird. It is a simple truth. My family has gotten a lot out of this book, and I believe it is the best out of all of the Tacky books. The best part is sometimes if I just do something random, my parents will look at me for a moment and say, "Tacky was an odd bird." Very good book.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Our son loved this book. Great for 5 and 6 year olds. Tacky seemed an odd bird to the other penguins but sometimes having a renegade in the crowd has benefits for the whole group. Cute and funny.
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book that can be read during circle time. The meaning of this book can teach children that it's okay to be different and just be who you are. The illustration was very detailed.
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Helen Lester is the author of many children’s books. Her background with children includes being a mother of two and a former elementary school teacher of ten years. While at home with her children, Helen realized the importance of quality children’s literature. Helen started her writing career as a struggling author facing many rejections by publishing companies. Her first book was finally publis ...more

Other books in the series

Tacky (10 books)
  • Three Cheers for Tacky
  • Tacky in Trouble
  • Tacky and the Emperor
  • Tackylocks and the Three Bears
  • Tacky and the Winter Games
  • Tacky Goes to Camp
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  • Happy Birdday, Tacky!