This fishy tale reunites young Londoners Imogen and Arthur with their friend Einstein the penguin, recently moved to Sydney Zoo. The two have been missing him very much and are delighted when he, and fellow penguin Isaac, are sent to London to take part in an advertising campaign. Alarm bells start to ring – as they should – when the children realise that the animal agent is none other than failed detective Bill Hunter, whom they outwitted in their first adventure. When the penguins are kidnapped Imogen steps up again as detective, with Arthur as accomplice.
The delights of this story are many. Eccentric as the set up is, the friendship between the main characters is perfectly realised, as are the family relationships. Einstein’s attitude to life echoes that of that other warm-hearted, curious immigrant Paddington, though unlike Paddington, Einstein can’t speak, relying on loaded facial expressions to make his feelings known. The writing is sharp with some acute observations and memorable phrases, and at no point does the whimsicality veer into tweeness. As illustrator, David Tazzyman is perfect, his scribbly black and white drawings capturing the absurdities of the plot and the emotional truths with equal skill. This will be very much enjoyed by children and adults alike as bedtime reading.