This is the first time I’ve both written and illustrated a kids’ book. I started working on the story about five years ago when I noticed how funny and hesitant kids were about swimming and jumping into pools. The entire book is printed in three color Pantone inks which makes the colors really pop. I’m very happy with the way the printing turned out. There is more information below, along with a few reviews which give a good idea of what the book's story is about.
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review): "Sergio the penguin isn't afraid of all water—just “the very deep kind.” But with the help of floaties, a snorkel, a life preserver, he discovers that taking the plunge isn't so bad after all. A penguin with a fear of swimming is both a comic and a useful premise—plenty of similarly haunted readers will want to laugh at Rodriguez's (Float Like a Butterfly) sympathetic presentation, and his illustrations guarantee that they'll be able to share the fun, too. Rendered in a minimalist, three-color palette (aqua, midnight blue and orange), these mostly full-spread images each pack a poster-like punch (Rodriguez is an acclaimed poster designer as well as a former Time art director). He finds occasions for jokes (on the walls of Sergio's bedroom hang framed portraits of other black-and-white creatures: cow, Dalmatian, panda, zebra, soccer player), creates dynamic vignettes and makes even Sergio's back look expressive. One of those rare books that doesn't sacrifice child appeal in its embrace of up-to-the-minute visual techniques. Ages 3–6.
Kirkus Reviews: "Sergio the Argentinian penguin loves drinking, splashing and playing with water, but he can't swim-which makes for some anxious moments when his class takes a field trip to the ocean. Screwing his courage to the sticking place after agonies of indecision ("It's scary!" "It's just water!" "It's dark!" "It's clear!"), he tumbles clumsily down the cliff and with a huge splash disappears completely. Using pale, thinly applied woodblock inks and digital media, Rodriguez creates very simple-looking scenes featuring a tubby, long-beaked penguin (outfitted with snorkel, goggles and floaties on both wings) diving into a glassy turquoise sea. Eventually Sergio rises with another mighty splash and proceeds to have a ball. Maybe next time he'll leave off the floaties? "Sergio will have to think about that . . . ." Sergio comes with his own website, but a celebrity like Olivia he's not-more of an everypenguin, whose angst in the face of new experiences will strike a chord in many young children."
School Library Journal: "A young penguin loves water-to bathe, drink, and splash in-but he does not want to learn to swim in the ocean. When his class takes a trip for their first lessons, Sergio has his floaties, mask, and snorkel but still fears to take the plunge. With the supportive encouragement of his friends, the little creature finally makes the leap and, in the satisfying conclusion, finds that he quite enjoys himself. Beginning with the stylized goldfish on the endpapers, the simple woodblock and digital art is stunningly rendered in bright orange, stark white, and cool aquamarine. Rodriquez uses bold graphics, lines, and angles to create a sense of play and space that draws in readers. The text is great fun for storytimes or for reading alone. Kids will take to this visually pleasing tale like ducks...er, penguins, to water." -Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI
Shelf Awareness Review: "What does one do with a bird born to swim who won't? Why, encourage him to overcome his anxiety, of course! As Sergio's penguin peers coax him to come on in, the water's fine, youngsters will feel the lure, too. A palette of just four colors--black and white, naturally; a blue that children will instantly recognize as the chlorine-tinted color of their backyard and neighborhood pools, and life-preserver orange--lends the tale a retro feel despite its timeless topic, and suggests that this has been a struggle for generations of timid swimmers. In the first picture book he has both written and illustrated, Rodriguez (Oye, Celia!; Float Like a Butterfly) gets the pacing just right, as he shows the penguin's pals enumerating the things he loves ("fishies, . . . a cold bath"), all of which may be found in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean. In the tense moment after Sergio takes the plunge, the penguin hero is completely submerged, with nary a bubble as evidence of his presence on the full-bleed spread of pristine pool-blue; only a small orange sun in the upper right corner presides over the scene (as, offstage, "Sergio's friends and Mrs. Waddle watch and wait"). In the next spread, Sergio surfaces in a cascade of froth. Children will identify with the hesitant penguin's fear and cheer him on as he conquers it in triumph." --Jennifer M. Brown
Sergio has been getting a lot of great support from the editors and publishers at Little Brown. They selected him for the cover of their Spring catalogue!
The crew at Little Brown even printed little bath stickers to give out at events.
Sergio in Italy! This is my editor Alvina Ling at Little Brown's booth in the Bologna Iinternational Children's Book Fair. Sergio is being published in several languages, the book has been picked up by publishers in Korea, Japan, Holland and France.
Sergio and Edel were featured in The Miami Herald. Read the full article online here.