Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 8
- Grade: p to 3
- Reading age: 3 to 7
Moving all the way from the South Pole to the North Pole isn't easy for the young penguin Augustine. Uprooted from her home, she misses her friends, her grandma and grandpa and her old bedroom. There are all kinds of unfamiliar faces at the North Pole, and everything looks strange and different. When it's time to go to her new school, Augustine gets cold feet. But with the help of a few colored pencils and some inspiration from Picasso, this shy, artistic young penguin discovers a way to break the ice with her classmates and feel at home on the other end of the world.
Augustine's penguinized versions of van Gogh, Munch, Picasso and others are a delightful way to introduce children to art. A clever, charming story told from a penguin's eye view, Augustine illustrates that art is all around us --- and it is a language everyone understands.
About the author
La jeune auteure-illustratrice Mélanie Watt, née à Trois-Rivières, a remporté pour son travail de prestigieuses récompenses, dont le Prix Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz, le Prix Blue Spruce et le Prix Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon, tous les trois pour Frisson l'écureuil.
It was in a design class taught by Michèle Lemieux at the University of Quebec in Montreal that author and illustrator Mélanie Watt created her first picture book, Leon the Chameleon, which was later published by Kids Can Press. Watt went on to create several more books, including the Learning with Animals collection and Augustine, which was named an ALA Notable Children's Book. Watt has also illustrated Where Does a Tiger-Heron Spend the Night? and Bearcub and Mama, which won the 2006 IRA Teachers” Choices Project.
Mélanie's best known book, Scaredy Squirrel, has won many awards, including the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children”s Book Award for Children”s Picture Book and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator”s Award. The release of Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend was met with enthusiastic reviews and incredible sales, confirming the arrival of kid lit's newest superstar. Chester, Chester's Back! and Chester's Masterpiece are about a megalomaniac cat who is every bit the antithesis to Scaredy. Chester has already become a bestseller, and shows the breadth and creativity of Mélanie Watt.
Scaredy returns to take a few more tentative steps out of his comfort zone in Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and Scaredy Squirrel at Night. Mélanie has often noted how the Scaredy Squirrel books helped her work out her own insecurities and fears, as the success of these titles has required her to venture out into the unknown, and like Scaredy she has found the experience truly uplifting.
Mélanie currently resides near Montreal, Quebec.
- Short-listed, Shining Willow Award, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice
- Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
- Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre
Watt's pencil crayon and acrylic illustrations will likely win over young audiences, while her clever art references may well engage older readers.
While the Technicolor-bright drawings and the lessons of the importance of self-expression will tickle the kiddies, adults can dig the many cold-related puns littered throughout the book and Augustine's take on the classics ... Before parents know it, their kids will be hankering for the real thing.
Quill and Quire
Beautifully designed, Augustine, is an absolutely wonderful picture book ... this classic story of a family's move becomes original and witty ... Best of all, this picture book's depth will foster many conversations and inspire that most meaningful, dynamic relationship between book, adult and child.
Canadian Children's Book News
AugustineFrom packing her bags, to the airplane ride, to a new home with its “icicle chandelier and hard ice floor”, Augustine bravely faces her family’s big move from the South Pole to the North Pole. But trying to make friends at her new school is another matter, especially since her penguin accent is so different from the other animals’. Luckily for Augustine, her artistic talent attracts her schoolmates who help her overcome her shyness. With an upcoming art show and new friends, Augustine’s life in the North Pole doesn’t look too chilly.
Beautifully designed, Mélanie Watt’s Augustine is an absolutely wonderful picture book. By adopting a penguin’s point of view, this classic story of a family’s move becomes original and witty. Watt uses cold-weather colloquialisms to add intelligent humour with phrases like, “In my bedroom, I gather all my toys. My mom says it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
The illustrations, done in acrylic and pencil crayon, sparkle with the same clever humor. Each of Augustine’s drawings are “penguinized” parodic references to famous masterpieces of over 14 artists, including Mondrian, Renoir, van Gogh, Magritte, da Vinci and Warhol.
Augustine is sure to delight parents who are familiar with these well-known artworks and children will relish its simple story, endearing character and bright pages. Best of all, this picture book’s depth will foster many conversations and inspire that most meaningful, dynamic relationship between book, adult and child.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2006. Vol.29 No. 4.
H AugustineMoving isn’t easy for Augustine. But in time the shy, artistic young penguin discovers what art (and making friends) is all about. A clever, charming story told from a penguin’s-eye-view.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.