Peacocks, Penguins and the Horror of Assimilation

Try to guess the message of the book A Peacock in the Land of Penguins: A Tale of Diversity and Discovery. If your first thought is that diversity is good, then you’d be correct. Barbara Hately and Warren H. Schmidt wrote a cute modern fable about penguins trying to incorporate different birds into their business, but force them to assimilate. Perry the peacock is one of these birds and he has to figure out what is important: staying true to yourself or belonging to an important company.

There wasn’t much to the plot apart from that and the characters were pretty cute. Perry’s enthusiasm is adorable and all the other non-penguin birds were just as interesting. Even the penguins were well-developed. They weren’t cardboard antagonists; they actually had a reason for their belief. Even though I disagreed with it, it’s clear how they come to the conclusion. It’s realistic and not as black as white as the penguins themselves.

While the message was nice, it became annoying at times. I knew what Hately and Shmidt were saying, but they felt the need to re-state it in italics. It made the book feel like it was pre-schoolers and even they wouldn’t admire it. If I learned one thing from my Writing for Children class, it’s that they don’t like being talked down to, even it’s about diversity and penguin corporations.

The illustrations by Sam Weiss throughout the book were a nice touch. They are more sketches than elegant masterpieces, but this stopped them from overpowering the words and stories. I suppose I would have preferred it if Perry and the other birds were in colour, but they would have had to make sure it wasn’t too bold. It’s just a sacrifice they had to make.

A Peacock in the Land of Penguins: A Tale of Diversity and Discovery is a quick read the affirms the idea that diversity is good. I can’t imagine any entrepreneur reading this and realising their mistake, but I suppose workers can find it momentarily uplifting and it can influence the future business world. I’m giving it 5.8/10.

Discussion Point: Have or would you change who you are for a job?


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