Chrissie's Reviews > The Penguin Lessons

The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
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really liked it
bookshelves: argentina, audible, 2015-read, bio, fauna, uruguay, humor, flora, history, travel, paraguay, bolivia

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 deal? The penguin, Juan Salvador, saved from an oil slick off the coast of Uruguay where thousands of penguins died OR those humans who came to know him - the author, the Bolivian boy Diego whom he swam with, Maria or the other attendants and teachers at St. George's College? Was he a savior or was he the saved? That is the question. I learned so much about these marvelous creatures. I learned with my head and with my heart.

The author, Tom Michell, was an assistant master at the above named, rather exclusive boarding school in 1975 - 1976. It’s located in Quilmes, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was 23. He never planned on caring for a penguin. He planned on teaching and seeing South America - its people, its wildlife, its landmarks, its night sky constellations, its flora, its fauna. In fact, he does both! And in this book he articulately depicts his emotional and intellectual experiences. He must have been a marvelous teacher. He cared for those kids and he cared for Juan Salvador. He briefly fills in the history of the time. Rampant inflation and the beginning of the Dirty War. In March 1976 Isabel Péron was ousted by a right-wing coup d'état. A military junta was installed headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla.

The auiobook narration by Bill Nighy was expertly executed. You should hear him relate the college rugby matches or how Juan Salvador flies through the water. The lines sound just like the British school teacher the author was, but never stuffy. Couldn’t have been better. Perfect.
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Reading Progress

October 23, 2015 – Shelved
October 23, 2015 – Shelved as: wishlist-b
October 23, 2015 – Shelved as: argentina
October 23, 2015 – Shelved as: audible
December 13, 2015 – Shelved as: own-unlistened
December 13, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-read
December 13, 2015 – Shelved as: bio
December 13, 2015 – Shelved as: fauna
December 15, 2015 – Started Reading
December 15, 2015 – Shelved as: uruguay
December 15, 2015 – Shelved as: humor
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: flora
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: history
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: travel
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: paraguay
December 16, 2015 – Shelved as: bolivia
December 16, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-38 of 38 (38 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan I'm definitely reading this, Chrissie. In fact, I'm off to add it to our suggested future books shelf at my book club group. I probably wouldn't listen to the audio even though this sounds good on audio.


Chrissie The audio was fun but the paper book will be just as good. I didn't think it would be this good! Maybe the paper has picture, but I used the web, so I lost nothing.


message 3: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan The web is great for photos, maps, and other additional information.

I'm excited about this book!


B the BookAddict This sounds wonderful, Chrissie. Great review.


Paul Almost picked this up at the library last month, will do so now after your review Chrissie


message 6: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Great review, Chrissie!


message 7: by Donna (new)

Donna Nice review, Chrissie. This book sounds great. I'm glad you enjoyed it even more than you thought you would.


Diane S ☔ Sent for ii today, super review, Chrissie. Looking forward to something humorous.


message 9: by Rhea (new) - added it

Rhea Another great review Chrissie. A light cheer book - just what I need. Thank you and have a lovely Christmas and a healthy New Year!!


message 10: by Chrissie (last edited Dec 16, 2015 10:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Rhea, thank you. I want you too to have happy holidays and new year. Thank you, Rhea.

As Rhea wished me, I would like to wish ALL of you happy holidays and a healthy new year.....yearS.I mean if I am going to make a wish let's lay it on thick. ;0)

I want to thank you all for appreciating my review. Here is the thing. It really surprised me by not JUST being funny, but also informative, moving and very well written. You can tell this author was a teacher. I wish I had his vocabulary. I said in my review that he is articulate. You will see what I mean when you read the book. He picks just the right words. Yet his writing is never posh or difficult to understand. He just knows his words and uses them expertly. Must have been a great teacher for these boys.

Paul, go back and grab it before somebody else does.


Chrissie I am struggling with this new font and colors.......... My God, the letters are tiny and squished together and I have to have more contrast between the letters and the background.

This is great for my eyes. I am being sarcastic.


message 12: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Chrissie,

My eyes hurt:

Feedback thread:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Lots of us are having difficulties. I think they're having to work on it. Grrrrr.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan In the meantime, try various browsers. I guess that there are differences.


Chrissie I cannot change browsers easily because of Zoomtext. Thanks for the link.


message 15: by Lilisa (new) - added it

Lilisa Sounds intriguing Chrissie - have to add it!


Chrissie Lilisa wrote: "Sounds intriguing Chrissie - have to add it!"

You'll like it.


message 17: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Chrissie wrote: "I cannot change browsers easily because of Zoomtext. Thanks for the link."

Chrissie, You could tell GR that too.

I thought Zoomtext enlarged anything on the screen. No?


message 18: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Thanks! I put it on my wish list as soon as it came out, but wasn't completely sure. Now I am!


Chrissie Zoomtext does not work properly with what they have done, Lisa. Even if I increase the magnification, the letters don't get very large and they remain blurry. Zoomtext never makes letters darker or thicker . No matter what I do the text remains blurry. You see the word "comment " at the top left hand corner of this box where I am writing? THAT I can read. Everything else is difficult and I have increeased the magnification a lot!


message 20: by Chrissie (last edited Dec 17, 2015 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie John, you will like it. Parts of it read as a travel book. He visits the Pampas and Bolivia and Paraguay, talking about the people, the landscape flora and fauna.


message 21: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Chrissie, How frustrating.

I have the book on reserve. I hope I can read it when it's available!


message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul It it supposedly on the shelf at the library I go to on Fridays. Will see if it is still there tomorrow!


Chrissie Good luck, both of you.


message 24: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Thanks, Chrissie. I'll try to make time. It's just on order so it might be a while.


Chrissie Well, I hope you all enjoy it. It is no masterpiece but I really did enjoy it. It is light. It is fun. It's interesting. I really didn't know if I should read it either! Luckily I gave it a chance.


Dixie Petersen Beautiful and educational review, Chrissie! The lives Juan Salvador touched were given a unique and priceless experience -- I wish I had been one of them! From your picture, I can see you know about priceless animal/human interactions can be!


Chrissie Thank you, Dixie! Life without animals would be bare; relationship with them are most often more fulfilling than those with fellow human beings.

I think this book has not gotten the acclaim it deserves.


Margo I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Quirky yet informative.


Chrissie Margo, yeah, I went in expecting just humor and got so very much more!


message 30: by Dixie (last edited Jul 02, 2017 02:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dixie Petersen Chrissie, did you say you read this book with the help of Zoomtext? You must be a dedicated reader! My best friend uses Zoomtext and I'm always surprised how quickly she can read with that program. She has only 9%. Best wishes!


Chrissie Dixie, I listened to an audiobook version, not Zoomtext. You can see that because I have filed it on my audible shelf.


message 32: by Dixie (last edited Jul 03, 2017 12:24AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dixie Petersen Sorry for the misunderstanding. I didn't look at anything except the comments for this book. I read where you mentioned a limitation in changing something while using the program. And, since I'm familiar with the program, it caught my attention. My closest friend lives 3000 miles away and 10 years ago we spent a lot of time using the old Messenger program. Wish you well!


message 33: by Nazima (new) - added it

Nazima Nasrullah After reading this review, this book goes in my reading list.


Chrissie Dixie, no problem!

Nazima, this book really should be be given more acclaim. Enjoy!


message 35: by Jan (new) - added it

Jan McClintock I like Bill Nighy and look forward to listening to this one very soon.


message 36: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 13, 2019 08:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Yeah, he gives a great narration here! I thought the auddio would be funny but it gave more than just that. We should talk when you have read it.

What else have you listened to by Bill Nighy that you think I might like?


message 37: by Jan (new) - added it

Jan McClintock Chrissie wrote: "What else have you listened to by Bill Nighy that you think I might like? "

I've never listened to him as a narrator, but I can think of a dozen books for which he would have been fun. I have this one on my TBR list: The Dupin Mysteries by Edgar Allen Poe (at Audible).


Chrissie Got'cha. Thanks.


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