Have you ever read a children’s book that was so fascinating you want other adults to read it? That’s the case with three books set in Iceland and starring puffins, birds with bright orange beaks, legs and webbed feet known as “clowns of the sea”. (Puffins’ landings and attempts to walk on land are, to human eyes, quite clown-like.)
The three puffin books are Puffins Take Flight, Puffins off the Beaten Path and Puffins Encounter Fire & Ice. The author is RA Anderson, a writer/photographer who first visited Iceland to attend a wedding, fell in love with the country and those beautiful birds and decided a story about puffins, the country of Iceland and other animal inhabitants of Iceland would make an interesting and educational book.
Incidentally, I would purchase all three books together because they tell a continuing story.
An introduction to the book says the books are for pre-K to second grade students. Yes, each book, in verse, tells a story about a mother and father puffin searching for their two young pufflings who strayed off on an adventure. But most pages also give information (not in verse) about puffins, other animal inhabitants of Iceland and about Iceland “the best place in the world to see puffins”. Here are two examples of the information for children and adults:
“Puffins can dive 60 meters (200 feet) under water and hold their breath for up to a minute. The average dive is 20 seconds to catch an average of 10 fish per trip, but a puffin can fit up to 62 small fish in its bill at one time and will make as many as 10 trips a day if needed to feed their families.”
“There are over 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland due to the frequent rain, snowfall, and large glaciers feeding the rivers. Waterfall is foss in Icelandic, so most waterfall names (such as Morsarfoss) end in foss.”
In fact, so much information and photos are about the country of Iceland that I immediately wanted to book passage and make my own visit. (I haven’t heard of the corona virus visiting there…yet.) I understand each year triple the population of Iceland visit the country.
Each of the puffin books has a section of vocabulary words, so eager youngsters can learn definitions and spellings and teachers have a built-in educational guide.
One note: Several mentions in the book are about global warming and its effects on Iceland and Iceland’s animal inhabitants.
As for me, the Puffin books were a surprisingly interesting read, and I am grateful to learn so much about puffins, other animal life in Iceland and about Iceland itself.