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Book Review

Penguin Problems by Lauren Myracle has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Life of Ty" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ty is a kind, sensitive 7-year-old. Life is tough, though, for several reasons. First, he has a new baby sister and desperately misses his parents' attention. His older sisters drop him off at school rather than walk him inside as Mom did. Mom can no longer go with him on field trips, and every interaction between them seems to be interrupted by a crying baby. Even the most innocent things Ty does at home seem to get him in trouble.

Besides that, Ty's best friend, Joseph, is in the hospital with leukemia. Ty must figure out whom to play with at school. He is uncomfortable when his other friends break rules or punch and play physically. Ty admits that his stomach is often in knots.

On a class field trip to the aquarium, Ty becomes frustrated with his classmates and wanders off. He finds himself in a roped-off section of the building where he is able to see some of the animals that weren't visible on the tour. He's delighted to get extremely close to a mother penguin and her babies.

He befriends one of the babies, feeling a bond with the creature since its mother and siblings aren't paying any attention to it. After sharing his sandwich with the penguin and naming it Pingy, he decides to take it home. He sneaks the penguin out of the museum in his backpack, even as oblivious security and his teacher scold him for running off alone.

Ty brings Pingy home, but quickly begins to see that his new pet seems unhappy. He shows it to his sisters, who graciously offer to sneak it back into the aquarium so their parents won't have to be bothered and Ty won't get in trouble. After the girls leave with Pingy, Ty's mom comes in to talk to him. She received a call from his teacher about his running off at the aquarium. She vows to make more time for the two of them to do things together. Then she asks Ty to watch his baby sister while she makes dinner. Ty is nervous at first but soon makes the baby laugh and begins to enjoy her.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Ty's parents do their best to give Ty the love and attention he needs while spending the bulk of their time caring for their newborn. Ty's teacher, Mrs. Webber, tries to teach her students natural consequences. She's kind and attentive to Ty but gets frustrated with him when he runs off on a field trip. On several occasions, Ty helps a younger boy at school when the preschooler has difficulties, such as a bathroom accident.


The Lord's name is used in vain once.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

6 to 9


Lauren Myracle






Record Label



Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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