A Five Star Pick
This memoir explores the adventure of a young British professor, taking the risk to travel abroad and landing on the other side of the world, to teach at a boy’s school in Argentina—during a corrupt regime. Although this in itself is already fairly interesting, his life gets more complicated with the addition of a penguin! Michell happens upon the oil slicked bird, thinking the suffering animal will not make it. The penguin’s fight to survive and unending gratitude to the author become a fixture in their bond. Never could you imagine how Juan Salvador’s life is changed and how he changes lives at the school, as a mascot. There are plenty of lessons to be learned throughout the book: things that ring true even today and perhaps more so, during these unsettling times in the United States. How one little penguin could open our eyes is clearly seen, once you fall in love with him. It doesn’t take long before you consider him a fellow man, despite being a waddling bird. Juan is silent, yet friendly and oh so dashing in his permanent tuxedo! Even his name is charming. The chapters are illustrated with sketches of Juan that Michell himself had doodled when the penguin was living with him. It is a memoir that will make your heart swell and bring tears to your eyes … but then again, aren’t all animal anecdotes like that?