Penguin by Polly Dunbar, published by Walker Books

This is a tale of patience, loyalty and friendship. It’s told in clear language, with moments of genuine surprise and humour, perfectly pitched alongside beautiful illustrations.

When a young boy unpacks a penguin from a box, he finds his new companion to be a reluctant and reticent playmate. Despite the boy’s efforts to engage his feathered friend through funny faces, jazzy dance and even space travel, “Penguin said nothing”.

When the boy and his attempts to communicate become exhausted, he finally loses patience, gets upset and is rather loud. A passing lion makes an unfortunate gastronomic intervention, but Penguin stands up for his friend with a brave and daring defence.

The final two pages, a wondrous showcase of shared experiences as “told” by Penguin, expressed with a newly articulate voice, is a joy to behold and one of our favourite scenes in picturebooks.

Penguin is a charming winner and an equally perfect choice for daytime and bedtime.

Penguin was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.