“Penguin in Peril,” by Helen Hancocks; Templar Publishing, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 3-6.
When three cats spend their last few dollars on movie tickets instead of dinner, disaster seems imminent for the famished felines. Undaunted, they decide that the best way to ward off hunger is to kidnap a penguin from the local zoo and force him catch fish for them. Their plan fails, the penguin escapes, and a lively chase ensues. Helen Hancock’s debut picture book will delight young readers, but adults may find that the narrative feels flat in spots. Regardless, the amusing gouache illustrations are fantastic – they’re bright and entertaining, coupled with just the perfect touch of mischief. Children will enjoy searching for the wayward waddler as he blends in with a group of nuns, waiters, and other madcap city scenes.