225 pages, 1 b/w map
'I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time.' Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn't need is a pet. What he really doesn't need is a pet penguin.
Set against Argentina's turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Peronist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom's side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school. Whether it's as the rugby team's mascot, the housekeeper's confidant, the host at Tom's parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets – in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other...
The Penguin Lessons is a unique and moving true story which has captured imaginations around the globe – for all those who dreamed as a child they might one day talk to the animals.
"Entrancing [...] the writing is a delight, the story itself so touching that I didn't want it to end. I really loved this book."
– Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear
"His tone suits the material perfectly [...] you believe every word [...] No fool, this penguin. No fools these publishers, who have unleashed such a delightful and charming book just in time for Christmas."
– Daily Mail
"One of the most touching tales we've read all year"
"A cheerful, readable book and all the more lovely for being a true [...] a memoir as charming as Juan Salvador himself."
– Stylist's Emerald Street|
"Warm and unique [...] it's hard not to wish you were there [...] a lovely story about a remarkable trip to the other side of the world and a gorgeous friendship between one man and his penguin."
– The Bookseller
"While Michell devotes much of his time to heartwarming penguin antics, he also recalls the less idyllic elements of his time in Argentina, including runaway inflation and a military coup. Michell's crisp, intelligent voice is equally at home chatting about motorcycling through the Argentine countryside and hiding a penguin for the duration of a bus trip. His classic dry British wit provides the perfect counterbalance to the inherent sweetness of the penguin's remarkable devotion. Animal lovers and travel fans alike will find Michell's adventures bright and charming."
– Shelf Awareness
"Lively and endearing [...] In clever, entertaining vignettes accompanied by simple yet engaging illustrations, Michell [...] interweaves introspection, travel tales, and penguin facts in a charming story that also reveals the charismatic nature of this gregarious and increasingly endangered species."
– Publishers Weekly
"Packed full of funny, heart-warming anecdotes and peppered with interesting details of the political and economic picture of Argentina, this would make a perfect Christmas stocking filler."
– Irish Examiner
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Tom Michell was born and grew up on the rural downs of southern England, where he grew to love animals, birds and plants. After living in Argentina he returned home and settled in Cornwall where he helps with the family business, tends a small plot of what he calls 'good Cornish soil' and sings with a local choir. He is an amateur artist and in his spare time he draws and paints subjects from the wildlife around his home, specializing in birds of prey. Tom is an enthusiastic proponent of understanding how humans can live in genuinely sustainable ways. He is married with four grown-up children and three grandchildren.