The Pengrooms by Paul Castle
Out now from Paul Castle Studio; 64 pages
About the Author/Illustrator: “Paul Castle wrote his first children’s book when he was six years old. It was called The Sad Turtle and he made it with construction paper, sticky tape, and the spirit of imagination. Today Paul writes stories and draws pictures for a living, although his books are made with slightly improved materials. His imagination, however, remains mostly the same if not a little dusty with age (because, as everyone knows, there’s nothing in the world more powerful than a child’s imagination and adults are just doing their best to keep up). Paul lives in Seattle with his husband, Matthew, who told him one sunny afternoon in April, ‘I think you should write that penguin book you’ve been talking about’ …Sometimes all we need is a little nudge from someone we love…” (Bio from The Pengrooms).
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The Pengrooms is a picture book that any kid would immediately adore. From a pair of flamingos dancing the tango to a four-layer cake made of snow cones, The Pengrooms has it all. The book follows Pringle and Finn, two adorable penguins, as they journey across the animal kingdom to deliver wedding cakes to their fuzzy and feathery friends. Along the way, Pringle and Finn also just so happen to be preparing for their own wedding, which is where the snow-cone cake comes in. This book is ultimately a vivid celebration of LGBTQ+ love.
With all this in mind, I feel that not only is this a book that any kid would absolutely love, but it’s also a book that many LGBTQ+ adults might feel validated by. LGBTQ+ representation is hard to come by, especially in the particularly heteronormative space that is children’s literature. I for one can’t help but feel that there’s been a The Pengrooms-shaped gap on my bookshelf my entire life. Therefore, I was really moved upon reading this book because I know the immensely positive effect it will have on kids today. It’s what motivates me to want to talk about Pringle and Finn with just about everybody I know. It also must be noted that Paul Castle’s illustrations are simply wonderful. This book is so full of delightful drawings of Pringle and Finn and their friends. The imaginative vision Castle has brought to life on the page is truly so special. And frankly, you don’t know what cute truly means until you see two penguins wearing rainbow bow ties.
PRR Writer, Brooke Gorman