Story Time: Tacky the Penguin

Who doesn't love Tacky the Penguin? Tacky is not your average penguin. He’s an individual who marches to the beat of his own drum. The other penguins barely tolerate Tacky’s unusual penguin habits. However, when these habits end up throwing some profit-seeking penguin hunters off track, the others learn to appreciate Tacky’s differences. He is an endearing, unpretentious character whose unique style is captured in playful illustrations. The text is presented in simple easy-to-follow sentences with occasional rhyme and repetition. Here, we share a few ideas for before reading, during reading, and after reading.

Tacky the Penguin

Tacky the Penguin Story Time

Before Reading:

Read the book’s title and ask children to observe the cover illustration. Ask:

  • What do you see in the picture? (a penguin in a flower shirt and bow tie, wolves in clothing, a net, a bear in clothing, snow, a map, water)
  • What do you think is happening in the picture? Why? (Take several responses.)
  • What do you think this book will be about? Why? (Take several responses)
  • Does the penguin in the picture look scared? Why or why not? (Take several responses)
  • What about the bear? the wolves? How do they look? (Take several responses)

Read the author’s name, Helen Lester, and explain that she wrote the words for the book. Read the illustrator’s name, Lynn Munsinger, and explain that she drew the pictures for the book. They worked together as a team to make the words and the pictures go together.

During Reading:

As you read the story, pause occasionally to ask questions and define difficult vocabulary words. Here are some suggestions.


  • How does Tacky act? (friendly, comfortable, sloppy, rough, imperfect, confident)
  • How do the other penguins act? (formal, the same, neat, proud, gentle, polite)
  • How is Tacky different than the other penguins? (He is less formal and exact.)
  • How does Tacky get the hunters to go away? (He confuses them because he doesn’t act like a typical penguin.)
  • Do you think Tacky is brave? Why or why not? (Take several responses)

Child-Friendly Definitions:

  • companion: friend
  • hearty: warm and friendly
  • graceful: smooth, delicate, beautiful
  • dreadful: horrible, terrible

After Reading:

Tacky the Penguin
by Jolanda Garcia, KidsSoup, Inc.

I'm Tacky the Penguin,
I'm black and white.
I wear a colorful shirt,

I'm an adorable sight.

I love to dance
and I love to sing.
I waddle to the water
And dive right in!

Let children share their favorite parts of the story and why. Turn back to the page where the penguins sing Tacky’s song. Ask:

  • So, how many toes DOES a fish have? (none)
  • How many wings ON a cow? (none)
  • What kind of song is Tacky’s song? (a silly song, a nonsense song)
  • Do you like Tacky’s song? Why or why not?

Free Tacky the Penguin Coloring Page

Add More Lyrics to Tacky’s Song

Write the first part of Tacky’s song on chart paper. Make up a tune that works with the lyrics. Encourage children to come up with additional lyrics for the song that follow the same patterns as those in Tacky’s song:

How many ____ does a _____ have?

How many ______ on a _______?

Write their responses on the chart paper, adding “I wonder, yup, I wonder” after each pair of lines. Once children are satisfied with the lyrics they’ve added, sing the whole song through together for a fun ending to story time. 

Tacky the Penguin Story Re-telling Activities

Tacky the Penguin Felt Story and Story Printables (available in our KidsSoup Resource Library member site)

Preschool Activities: 

Tacky the Penguin Small World Play Area (available in our KidsSoup Resource Library member site)

Tacky the Penguin Activities and Folder Games

Dress the Penguin Same / Different Lesson and Folder Game (available in our KidsSoup Resource Library member site)

Dress the Penguin Sight Words Game (available in our KidsSoup Resource Library member site)

Tacky the Penguin Craft

Preschool Activities: 

Tacky the Penguin Craft (patterns and instructions available in our KidsSoup Resource Library member site)



View more preschool and kindergarten penguin activities and crafts


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