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Book Review: Spike, The Penguin With Rainbow Hair

As soon as I saw this book, I knew it was meant for our son. Not only are penguins one of his favorite animals, but he also loves to rock a mohawk sometimes.

Before we get to our reviews, let's meet the authors!

About the Authors

My sister Carmen and I run a company called Majestic Whale Encounters, a tour company that takes people swimming with whales in beautiful locations around the world. When Covid came along, our business suffered, and whilst we are still working hard to keep everything running, we have not actually been able to run a single tour since November 2019 because borders have been closed. Writing a children’s book was something we had talked about for a long time and this seemed like the perfect time to get started. We released our first book in May 2020, Nellie the Narwhal, and will be releasing our third book in a few months.

What Inspires You?

Carmen and I are both mums, she has three girls and I have two boys. We have read them stories every single night and knew that we wanted to some day read them books of our own. We also give ocean themed books to any child that comes on tour with us, and we started to run out of book options, so this was a great reason to write our own!

Why This Book?

Self-acceptance is such an important topic. We like to have a subtle lesson in our books, and it seemed like a perfect fit for a little penguin who had color in a world of black and white. Once Zuzana (our illustrator) created Spike for us, we fell in love with him, and the story felt so easy for us to write.

What Have You Enjoyed Most About Writing and/or Publishing?

Nothing can beat the feeling when a child or parent loves your book. I’ve been told by many parents that our first book Nellie the Narwhal is a big favorite for their little ones and I hope Spike will find his way into many little hearts too.

What is Something That Has Surprised You During Your Book Publishing Journey?

The amount of work! Haha, I think this surprises everyone, but there really is so much involved in the self-publishing journey. I love it though, so most days it is a pleasure.

What Advice Would You Give to Aspiring Authors?

Spend the money and time to make the best possible book you can. If you want to be successful, you need to have a really good book, and then you need to spend a lot of time marketing it. Believe in yourself, be ready to work hard, and don’t give up!

Book Description: Spike was born with beautiful rainbow hair. Everyone loved it and thought he was unique and special… well almost everyone. Follow Spike's adventures as he tries to change his hair to blend in with the crowd. Will he learn to embrace himself for who he is?

(Katie) Cover Review: Absolutely love this little penguin and his rainbow hair. Definitely looks like he's hanging out in Antartica with the coloring and snow-like sparkles. I love the little tilt of his head that shows his personality.

(Kids) Cover Review:

(7-yr-old) I like his rainbow hair and how he’s leaning his head and he’s super cute.

(5-yr-old) I like that it’s a penguin.

(3-yr-old) Ooooohh, a cute penguin!

(Katie) Story Review: This is a rhyming story and very well done. The cadence of the rhymes is on-point and we love some good rhyming books in this house! I was reminded of the Pout Pout Fish stories with this book, which are some of our kids favorites.

The story of self-acceptance and then pride was very heartwarming. I certainly feel like so many children can relate to this story in one way or another. The illustrations are not only bright, fun, and complementary of the story, but they also add even more personality to Spike with extra details and ways he tries to disguise his hair. The font is easy to read and not distracting in any way. I always enjoy when there is emphasis in the text on certain words or phrases, which is done well in this book. You can feel Spike's emotions with this emphasis.

I also enjoyed that they added in some subtle educational facts about seals and squid.

(Kids) Story Review:

(7-yr-old) I liked how creative he was when he tried to hide his hair. Spike learned that he’s awesome no matter what. Being your true self is the true thing to do. That you can’t hide yourself. Hiding yourself is a bad idea. My favorite part was when his friends told him his hair wasn’t strange.

(5-yr-old) I like the whole book. My favorite part was when he was born. I really like penguins.

(Katie) Overall: This book definitely caught and kept my kids’ attention. They LOVED the rainbow hair and the fact that the main character was a penguin. I asked my oldest if she ever felt like Spike and she said yes, and proceeded to tell me a story about her switching schools and trying to find new friends. They also loved the quiz at the end!


Interested in adding this book to your library? Book details and where you can find it are listed below!

Title: Spike, The Penguin with Rainbow Hair

Authors: Sarah Cullen and Carmen Ellis

Illustrator: Suzana Svobodova

Size: 8.5" x 8.5"

Page count: 28

Suitable for ages: 3 - 8

Currently available in: Paperback and e-book (Hardcover coming in a few months)

Where you can purchase: Amazon

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