Waiting for Joey


Join a teacher-scientist as she observes Antarctic penguins over ten breeding seasons.

How do Adelie penguins live and adapt to the changing climatic conditions of Antarctica? The author relates 10 years of observation, tracing the story of one penguin she calls Joey. Children will relate to both the penguins and the author’s sense of adventure as she becomes an expert penguin scientist. Richly illustrated with photos taken on-site at the research station in Antarctica.

Author: Jean Pennycook
Age Range : 8-12
Grades: 3-6

Book Details:

  • ISBN: Hardcover: 9781943431410/Paperback: 9781943431458
  • Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Animals/Birds
  • Page Count: 64
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Grades: 3-6
  • Lexile Level: 1040
  • Pub Date: 01/10/2018



Jean Pennycook is the Penguin Science Education and Outreach Specialist on a National Science Foundation project to study Adelie penguins in Antarctica. She has taught chemistry at the high school and college levels, and she spends many months in Antarctica each year.

“From 2008 until 2017, a scientist/author records her experiences in Antarctica as she studies Adélie penguins. Pennycook starts as a novice researcher in the remote region, having previously worked as a high school science teacher before a grant from the National Science Foundation to expand educational outreach enables her to begin a life-changing adventure. Young readers will follow her journey each year as she becomes used to the rugged camp and her painstaking work observing, tracking, and banding penguins in the Ross Sea. Linking her research endeavors to the annual sighting of one particular penguin, Joey (identified by his numbered band), and, later, his mate, Echo, allows the slow, but steady changes in a penguin’s life cycle to fully unfold. Each annual entry details the story of Adélie penguins’ independence from their parents, growth, evasion of predators, their own breeding and child-rearing habits, their mature life, and the possible effects of climate change. Woven into this picture is the more specific account of Joey, seen some years but not others, which helps generate tension. The photos are plentiful and generally clear… An intensive look at one breed of penguins and a glimpse of the scientists who study them under difficult conditions.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Pennycook, a wildlife biologist and educator, documents her multiple trips to Ross Island, Antarctica, where she and a team of researchers study Adélie penguins. Pennycook reflects on her first expedition to the harsh landscape, where she learned to weigh, measure, and band penguin chicks—including a small penguin that she named Joey—and grew to understand ‘predation, starvation, abandonment, and loss’ as part of penguin life. Photographs depict penguins on ice and in water, along with images of the team’s modest living arrangements (a tent and hut)… Through Pennycook’s storytelling, readers gain a vivid sense of what life as a wildlife researcher in a singular environment is like.”
– Publishers Weekly Review
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