Ty is a fairly typical seven year old; he likes to play goofy games, gets into trouble without meaning to, and is having trouble adjusting to a new baby in the house. A series of minor crises lead to him making a very bad decision and he ends up with a serious penguin problem (yes, that's a REAL penguin). Fortunately, his sisters are there to help save the day and he works things out with his mom and realizes the new baby isn't so bad.
I'm a bit tired of so many beginning chapter books and middle grade chapter books featuring phobic little boys (yes, Alvin Ho, I'm looking at YOU) that get stressed out over everything. I'm not saying those kids don't exist, but most kids are more interested in reading about kids with a little more balance in their lives (the opposite gender parallel is the class clown or spunky little girl. I am really, really sick of "spunky" little girls). Lauren Myracle does a really good job of keeping Ty a realistic and balanced character. He's nice to the preschoolers and is uncomfortable when the wilder Lexie wants to play guns with rubber bands, but he's also not above chasing the cat with a Dustbuster or doing a little perilous climbing. Ty's feelings about the baby are spot-on, but the author shows a real understanding of kids when Ty gets distracted from his feelings by pretty much whatever else is going on. Although the text is limited, the supporting characters are nicely drawn as well and I loved seeing a "spunky" little girl, Lexie, from an outsiders' perspective. The art is cute, but not too cute and complements the story nicely.
Verdict: I did find the final penguin exhibit a little beyond belief (then again, I've never tried the door handles at the zoo exhibits, so...) and the ending seemed rather abrupt - what happens with the sisters and the penguin? but overall this is a great beginning to a new beginning chapter book series. I'm feeling more enthusiastic about my summer booktalks already!
ISBN: 9780525422648; Published May 2013 by Dutton; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library