penguinaut + felt storytelling craft + giveaway!

Penguinaut by Marcie Colleen and Emma Yarlett (2018).

What really stuck out to me about this picture book is the language. It’s fun. It’s snappy. It’s clever. And it tells the story of this penguin turned Penguinaut named Orville perfectly.

Sure, it’s about the big adventure he longs to have and his ensuing trip to the moon. But more than that, it’s about something even bigger: his friends.

(click image(s) to enlarge)

Orville has big friends. Orville wants to do something BIG. Orville wants to do it himself. (Notice “flippered out” on that spread. That’s a taste of the terrific, inventive language I’m talking about.)

Orville does have a big adventure. The biggest. But just when he’s overcome with loneliness in spite of it, a note from his friends falls out of his pocket. And that note brings him home, the place where stories of adventure are told: together. And as anyone who’s ever had an adventure and then had the pleasure of telling a friend about it, that’s a pretty big deal.

A cheerfully zippy story with a vibrantly sweet heart.

Big thanks to Marcie Colleen for images and Scholastic for a review copy!


Zoe of Northwest Felts and I met on Instagram a while back and so when I read this book and thought, “felt craft!” I also thought of her wonderful felt creations that are so perfect for not only crafting, but for storytelling too. She was kind enough to make a felt storytelling craft for Penguinaut, and is giving it away!

Take it away, Zoe!

When I first read Penguinaut, I was struck by the amazing outer space scenes. Danielle and I both agreed that they should be featured in whatever craft I created. Most of my crafting is done with felt as the medium, and it seemed like the right choice for the Penguinaut craft, too!

I wanted to make something that could be manipulated and played with after the actual craft was complete, almost like a felt story. I also wanted the craft to bring to life the “do it yourself” struggle all children and parents (and Penguinauts) inevitably go through.

What you’ll need:

Fabric glue (I normally sew my creations, but glue works too!)

Children’s scissors*

Felt sheets (orange, red, yellow, brown, black, white, beige, green, blue)

Black Sharpie

Safety pins


*Children’s scissors are my secret weapon for cutting felt.

**I used photocopies from pages of the book in order to get the characters just right. If you’re skilled at drawing, you could easily draw the characters instead.

In order to make this a craft that older children can do by themselves, I would suggest getting photocopies of the main pieces from the story (the Penguinaut and the space ship are the two that I focused on, but get photocopies of whatever you want to create).

You can use the photocopies in two ways. The first is to trace the photocopy onto the felt and cut out the traced image. The second way is to safety pin the photocopy onto the felt and cut out around the photocopy. I used the second option because it creates cleaner lines.

To create a cleaner finish, you can glue penguinaut’s feet in between his white tummy piece and the rest of his body.

Now that we have a penguinaut, we can work on his space suit. I wanted him to fit inside the suit, so I made a suit that can open and close. I did this by first cutting long, thin strips on orange, to create hinges. Next, I glued them, half to the white backing of the suit, and half to the orange front of the suit. Finally, I folded the suit over so the hinges were hidden on the inside.

I also wanted Penguinaut to be able to get into and out of his spaceship, so I glued an extra piece of beige felt to the back. This created a little nook that penguinaut can sit in during his space adventure.

For the background, I chose to do the outer space scene. I loved the colour contrasts and the twinkling stars. Some of the pieces are glued down (Earth, the Moon, the clouds and stars) while other pieces are left unglued so that they can be moved and played with (the spacesuit, Penguinaut, and the flag).

Have fun with this part! I wanted to stay true to the illistrations in the book, but you can create different scenes based on your favourite part of the book (or your favourite part of space)!

I love the idea that you get to choose what to glue down and what to leave free to move around. Giving these choices can create a fun experience that can be revisited over and over again.


When the craft is done and you’ve finished exploring and playing with it, I love the idea of storing it on the wall as art. If you put it up on a felt board, a child can take it down and play with it whenever they want.

Thanks for following along!

Zoe is the maker at North West Felts. She loves using felt stories to create literacy experiences through play. Zoe’s favourite Felt set is Slippery Fish! She is a huge fan of children’s literacy and loves reading stories with her 2.5-year-old and her 8-month-old. Zoe is currently on maternity leave but will return to work as an Early Childhood Educator in the Spring. When she isn’t reading, she is using books as inspiration for her felt creations. Find her on Instagram and Facebook @northwestfelts.


Good news! We’re giving away a copy of Penguinaut and Zoe’s felt craft set to go with it!

Enter below (N. America only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

26 Responses to penguinaut + felt storytelling craft + giveaway!

  1. Laura Sharp says:

    What a cute book! I had a felt book growing up and loved it! So much fun creating your own stories with the felt!

  2. What a wonderful book! I cannot wait to enjoy this with my astronaut and penguin loving girls! Thank you for sharing <3

  3. Amy says:

    Too cute! I love Zoe’s work and you can’t go wrong with a penguin. Especially a space penguin.

  4. smpeace says:

    This is so cute!

  5. “Orville flippered out.” is my FAVORITE line in the whole book. And it is fabulously fun!

  6. David McMullin says:

    Absolutely delightful book. And the craft is so cute.

  7. Cathy P says:

    Penguins have always seemed so exotic to me since I grew up on a farm. They are so cute!

  8. Anitha Kuppuswamy says:

    Awesome book!! Love the space penguin:)

  9. Penguinaut is one of those perfect picture books. Thanks for sharing this fun craft here.

  10. Kellie says:

    We love Northwest Felts, and so happy to learn about your books through her Instagram!

  11. Val McCammon says:

    Penguinaut exquisite — from the sparkling text and warm story to the amazing visuals that are so vibrant!

  12. Gabi Snyder says:

    LOVE Penguinaut and its BIG heart and I love this adorable felt craft, too!

  13. John Smith says:

    “Tell us about your love of felt crafts or penguins. :)” Probably I’m more aware as a rule of my love of penguins, but when you can combine your love of penguins *and* felt, well!!

  14. Candee says:

    This is so cute! I love the idea and execution!

  15. Sarah Mast says:

    Oh my, this craft is SO cute! I used to make little felt crafts like this with my kiddos when they were younger. My favorite one was a weather ‘calendar’. (If I win this, I’ve got a great 4 year old who would be getting it-a friend’s son!)

  16. Claire says:

    So cute!

  17. Heather Pierce Stigall says:

    Both the book & craft are really cute! I can’t wait to read it.

  18. Yes, the flippered out line was one of my favorites! And this craft is sooo cute! Orville has stolen my heart!

  19. mhofman2013 says:

    Not to throw cold water, but I’m thinking the target audience for this sweet story would struggle to cut out felt. They can hardly handle scissors and paper. Or is the craft for the librarian to make?

    • Zoe says:

      Hi! My background is in early childhood education and I did hope to create a craft that was accessible for many different ability levels! Here are my thoughts on the different ages and what they might be capable of:
      I would say children 5+ could do most of it on their own, with a little support. 3-5 aged children will need support with some of the cutting but can handle the glue with adult supervision. 2-3 can help place the pieces after they have been cut and glue has been applied bu an adult. This will also all depend on the child, their past experiences and their fine motor abilities.
      I hopefully that is helpful!

  20. Michelle says:

    So cute!! I love Zoe’s slippery fish set.

  21. Cathy Ogren says:

    Love this book and craft! Awesome!

  22. Robyn says:

    Great job Zoe! Love the little felt penguin!

  23. Andrea Mack says:

    Oh, I love this! My kinderstudents would spend hours playing with it. Great idea for a great book!

  24. C.L. Murphy says:

    How clever–both the book and craft!

  25. Nicole says:

    This is so cute! My daughter loves penguins!

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