Book Review: Augustine, the story of an Antarctic penguin by Mélanie Watt

by DerdriuMarriner

Augustine by Mélanie Watt describes for pre-schoolers to second-graders aged 3 to 7 years a penguin’s move from the South Pole of family and friends to the North Pole of strangers.

Penguins consider as their homelands south polar regions:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (February 25, 1841 – December 3, 1919) namesake does him proud with Girl with a Watering Can wall art until the family house gets sold and her father opens North Pole-based offices. Augustine’s father engages Emperor King Movers to transport furnishings and possessions and Penguin Air to transport family and suitcases. He gets hotel rooms while checking eight houses for sale and purchasing the ninth because of:
• Augustine’s tower room;
• castle-like exteriors;
• hard ice floors; and
• icicle chandeliers.

Augustine has frosty flakes for breakfast and icy fresh toothpaste for hygiene before back-packing apple juice, sandwiches, and sprinkle-iced cupcakes for school. Loneliness inspires Augustine’s adapting Pablo Picasso’s (October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973) Self-portrait in Blue Period.




Mélanie Watt's artistic penguin Augustine is transplanted from her native Antarctica to a new school in the North Pole, where her artistic gifts break the ice and help her to make friends.

View toward the NNE from Rothera Research Station (on Adelaide Island) over Laubeuf Fjord
View toward the NNE from Rothera Research Station (on Adelaide Island) over Laubeuf Fjord

Penguins do not inhabit north polar regions natively


Miss Lisa joins students in praising Augustine’s illustrated autobiography and peer portraits. Next week’s art show keeps conversations going over Augustine’s dinner of:

  • iceberg lettuce;
  • noodle soup;
  • snow cones; and
  • snow peas.  

It lives up to everyone’s expectations with:

  • Augustine’s display recalling Henri Matisse’s (December 31, 1869 – November 3, 1954) Icarus painting;
  • exhibits by Felix fox, Harry hare, Larry and Lena lemmings, Petula puffin, Polly bear, Selia seal; and
  • visit by Augustine’s grandparents.

So Augustine models cultural enrichment and educational entertainment for pre-schoolers to second-graders aged 4 to 7 years and beyond, thanks to:

  • Kids Can Press;
  • Karen Powers, designer;
  • Tara Walker, editor; and
  • Mélanie Watt, acrylic and pencil crayon illustrations artist, designer, ICG Lemonade-set text’s writer. 


Mélanie Watt spotlights famous artworks, such as Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory" by way of her artistic penguin Augustine.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), mid-town Manhattan, New York City
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), mid-town Manhattan, New York City

Penguins embody artistic, cultural, environmental, and literary concerns


Augustine also nudges into the limelight:

  • Salvador Dali’s (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989) Memory’s Persistence;
  • Lawren S. Harris’ (October 23, 1885 – January 29, 1970) Mount Lefroy;
  • René Magritte’s (November 21, 1898 – August 15, 1967) Decalcomania, This Isn’t a Pipe;
  • Piet Mondrian’s (March 7, 1872 – February 1, 1944) Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue;
  • Claude Monet’s (November 14, 1840 – December 5, 1926) Houses of Parliament;
  • Edvard Munch’s (December 12, 1863 – January 23, 1944) Scream;
  • Vincent van Gogh’s (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) Bedroom;
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) Mona Lisa;
  • Andy Warhol’s (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) Campbell’s Soup Can; and
  • Grant Wood’s (February 13, 1891 – February 12, 1942) American Gothic


Mélanie Watt introduces children to art through spotlighting famous artworks, such as Edvard Munch's "The Scream," by way of an artistic penguin, Augustine.

The National Gallery, Oslo, southeastern Norway
The National Gallery, Oslo, southeastern Norway

Penguins fit into artistic, geographical, and literary spaces


So Mélanie's picture book operates to advance entertaining, practical, relevant knowledge in terms of a number of learning domains and through a pile of learning tools. For example, Augustine provides coping skills with the sadness of leaving familiar, well-loved people and places and the stress of surviving unfamiliar, unlike objects and organisms. Readers consequently quit the culture and wildlife of one of Planet Earth’s regions for the unexpected, unknown residents and resources of another.

In the process, readers realize what works in every, no, or one interaction or situation. They savor these deep truths on the many fronts which cutting-edge science and technology offer the twenty-first century’s savvy denizen, such as Augustine’s overlap between artistry and environmentalism.


Augustine by Mélanie Watt ~ available via Amazon

In her new school at the North Pole, Augustine makes friends via art. Augustine's penguinized versions of van Gogh, Munch, Picasso and others are a delightful way to introduce children to art.
Mélanie Watt stories



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Mélanie Watt spotlights famous artworks, such as Vincent Van Gogh's "Bedroom," in her children's story about an artistic penguin named Augustine.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sources Consulted: Augustine Is Available in English and French Formats


Watt, Mélanie. 2006. Augustine. Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and Tonawanda, NY, U.S.A.: Kids Can Press Ltd. 


In her story about an artistic penguin named Augustine, Mélanie Watt includes one of the world's most famous paintings, La Joconde, known popularly as Mona Lisa.

Louvre Museum, Paris, north central France
Louvre Museum, Paris, north central France
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Wild Wings - Penguins (Front/Back Print): sublimate white print t-shirt ~ available via AllPosters

Wild Wings - Penguins (Front/Back Print)
Ad AllPosters

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 03/17/2015, DerdriuMarriner
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