Early Reviews

“A touching tale of diversity, personal growth, and the power of friendship. My three-year-old son has me read it again and again.”

Bertie Koller

Singer, Songwriter


"When a baby penguin is born with extra-long flippers, at first he is criticized and made fun of by the other young penguins in the neighborhood, except for one dear friend, Floe, who offers loving support; but through his adventures in Antarctica, some new friends help him discover an amazing talent that this difference affords him!  Although nicknamed Awk the Awkward Penguin by the less than nice schoolmate Bill, encouraging Seagull and Cormorant, a charming wordsmith, are compassionate and patient with Awk as he discovers his spectacular skills.

"Awk will enchant children and adults alike as they meander around the South Pole, watch Awk struggle at Penguin Skill School, and finally find his natural gift.  Awk The Awkward Penguin celebrates individual differences and helps the young reader appreciate the value of unique traits.  This is a delightful book with expressive, whimsical, and adorable illustrations that lends itself well to literacy experiences for preschool as well as school age children, opening a door to conversations and activities around friendship, bullying, and positive self-concept."

Review written by Dawn Wheeler

 M.S. E.C.E./C.D.

"Bursting with beautiful blues and assorted animals from the Antarctic landscape, Awk the Awkward Penguin artfully tackles a challenge we all face at one time or another in our lives; that painful feeling of not fitting in, of being (dare I say it)…GULP…different! This can be especially excruciating for children. Yet author/illustrator Vance Bessey, via main character Awk, shows us that we all have something to offer no matter what our circumstances.

    "Profound in its simplicity, this story also makes clear that friends can take a variety of forms and may be found in the most unusual places. Furthermore, as if all of that wasn’t enough to make this book an extremely worthwhile read, we learn too about the power and grace of forgiveness. But I don’t want to give away every plot twist! Read Awk the Awkward Penguin for yourself, and share its splendor with the children in your life. You’ll be so glad you did."


Nannette Brophy Major

Author/Illustrator of "The Color of My Fur"

Published 1992 by Winston-Derek Publishers (Nashville, TN)

Re-printed 2015 by Major Masterpieces (Pottsville, PA)

"In this era of intolerance for diversity, it is refreshing to pick up Vance Bessey's new children's book, Awk, The Awkward Penguin. Bessey, a longtime writer, illustrator, comic artist and teacher, has created a fable geared to all children who "ever felt different or lesser than other kids," as he writes in his dedication."

By William Frayer, Educator, Poet

"It's an unhappy truth, but children are often ostracized and bullied for being different than their peers. There are many children's books that deal with this subject; the most notable of these at the moment is  Wonder, the best-selling book (now a movie) by R.J. Palacio. Now Bath, Maine, has its own story teller on this subject, our own Vance Bessey."

Roberta T. Jordan  

MLS  Outreach and Instruction Librarian

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