Juan Salvador is one amazing penguin. First he survives an oil slick that poisons and drowns all of his fellow Magellanic penguins, then he contrives to be rescued from a beach in Uruguay by a young English teacher. Tom, the teacher smuggles him into the classy apartment where he is staying and cleans him with a mixture of butter, margarine and detergent in the bathroom. Halfway through this process Juan Salvador realizes that this human is making him feel better and stops his frantic and vicious struggling. It's easy to imagine the state of the bathroom by this stage!
Juan Salvador (named as a nod to Jonathon Livingston Seagull) is also gregarious and adaptable, essential qualities for a penguin who after his rescue and clean up becomes a much-loved resident at the boarding school that employs Tom. He learns to eat dead fish from hand, toboggan down stairs and swim in a concrete pool without crashing into the sides.
Title: The penguin lessons
Author: Tom Michell
Reviewed by Christine O.
Christine O has worked in libraries on the North Shore for over 20 years. She likes her fiction to be believable and her non-fiction to be accessible.