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Mr Penguin and The Catastrophic Cruise

Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise #3

Published: 14 May 2020

Paperback / softback, 288 pages

Recommended for age 7+

By Alex T. Smith

Published by Hachette Children's Group

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Mr Penguin is boarding a luxury cruise ship. He doesn't like water, and he can't swim, but his friend Colin is performing with the Ladies Choir on board - and anyway, Mr Penguin feels like a rest after some busy Adventuring. What's more, fish finger sandwiches are apparently available twenty-four hours a day.

Heaven! But despite the glamorous film stars and party atmosphere, Mr Penguin can't help but feel that something shifty is happening on board. And when he befriends a young stowaway with a mystery of her own to solve, he soon finds that Adventures are lying in wait after all ... This is the third Mr Penguin book with plenty of slapstick humour, mystery and adventure.

This title features in our The Reading Journey selection.

Tagged penguins and reluctant to read

The Mr Penguin series

Mr Penguin and the Tomb of Doom #4
Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure #1
Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise #3

The Mysterious Maze Lower Key Stage 2

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The Reading Bug Y3

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Reading Bug Packs have been selected for their high-interest appeal, particularly for readers who have not yet found intrinsic motivation to read.

Reviewed by Roy James

Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise is the latest offering from Alex T Smith. Fish finger sandwiches at the ready. Time for another adventure!

The third Mr Penguin book sees the gang of misfit adventurers on the maiden voyage of the Saucy Sandra. They need a holiday after their last two books! Although this trip is anything but relaxing. Mixing with millionaires and movie stars, a mystery unravels. Finding scraps of paper with a curious message, they help a young stow-away find her kidnapped grandfather. But why would anyone want to kidnap him? The answer holds more danger than Mr Penguin et al. have ever faced before!

Although it’s the third instalment, you don’t have to read them in order; there’s a nice character recap at the front of the book. Each book is its own adventure while still retaining the humour and genuinely well-written plots. These keep you guessing all the way through. 

One of the key features of these books is the vast range of vocabulary. There are so many interesting words to pick out. And it’s not that they’re obscure or complicated; they add colour to the writing and give it some vitality and pizazz—something we all want to see in pupils” writing.

One of the most interesting parts of the text is the secondary narrative told in the second person. The dark pages and seabed illustrations is an atmospheric change contrasting with the rest of the story. It starts on the very first page after you open the book, before the title page and copyright details. This touch makes it seem that whoever’s voice this is – all does become clear later on – it somehow lives beyond the confines of the story. Very clever, a bit creepy, and a great talking point!

Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise is a great bridge-book for the 6-8 age group, for a class read or newly independent readers. But the real joy is that this is a book to share, where both child and adult will laugh out loud!

Other titles in this series Mr Penguin and the Lost TreasureMr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets

I work as a librarian across two primary schools, and I tutor English Literature and Language at a secondary school. I was recently awarded a PGCert from Oxford Brookes University in Children's Literature.