The Truth About Penguins

Written by Meg McKinlay
Illustrated by Mark Jackson

Walker Books Australia, 2010
Ages 3+


Everybody knows penguins … don’t they?
The penguins are coming and there is great excitement at the zoo. But what’s a penguin? The animals don’t quite know what to expect – but they all have an opinion, each more outlandish than the last. When the truth about penguins is finally revealed, everyone is in for a surprise!

The Truth About Penguins is a zany romp that plays with the fine line between fact and fiction in the animal world.

The detailed, expressive illustrations will have children searching each page for added fun.


What Readers Are Saying:

‘…the language rolls from your tongue, the illustrations add richness to the words and encourage keen imaginations to extend the story … The Truth About Penguins has a droll sense of humour and the writing never patronises its audience…’
Michelle Hamer, The Age

‘The story has a quirky way about it that is quite charming … a sweet tale that will delight child and reader alike.’
Books + Publishing



  • Shortlisted, Young Children Category, Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2011



Download classroom ideas


Behind the Story

The idea for this book came from a conversation I had with my daughter, who was about eight at the time. This was back in the era of Happy Feet, March of the Penguins, and so on when penguins were all the rage and every child I spoke to seemed to want to tell me about them. One day my daughter came home from school and started telling me all the penguin facts she had learned that day – Did you know that penguins live in Antarctica? Did you know that the dads put the eggs between their feet? Did you know that penguins mate for life? – that sort of thing. And I just thought I’d have some fun with her. I replied, “Well, you know, that’s what they tell you. That’s what the penguins want you to believe. But actually, penguins don’t even like the cold. The ice is slippery and the wind makes their beaks hurt.”

Without really meaning to, I just began spinning a yarn about penguins who flew off to tropical beaches, leaving their chicks at home with nannies, and picking up fried fish at the drive through. And later I wondered if there was a story there. It took a couple of years of back and forth with my editor and a lot of redrafting to make it work as a picture book, but that’s where it all began.