~ Tom Michell: The Penguin Lessons ~

Als ich dieses Jahr in London war, habe ich mir auch ein sehr schönes englischsprachiges Buch mitgebracht, welches ich nun endlich gelesen habe.

When I was in London this year I – for sure – brought back a wonderful english book with me – which I have now finished reading.


„Had I been told as a child in the 1950s that my life would one day run parallel with that of a penguin – that for a time, at least, it would be him and me against the world – I would have taken it in my stride.“

(page 1)

Tom Michell war noch ein junger Mann, als er einen Pinguin vor dem sicheren Tod rettet und sich um ihn kümmert. Daraus wurde eine Art Freundschaft, die beide – den Mann und den Pinguin – beeinflusste.

Tom Michell was a young man when he saved a penguin from dying a horrible way and took care of him. This was the beginning of a kind of friendship which influenced both – the man and the penguin.

„Although it was lying on its belly and covered in tar like the other birds, this penguin was moving its wings and holding its head up. It wasn’t moving much, but its head and wings were giving little spasmodic jerks. The death throes of a defeated creature, I assumed.


I lifted the furious creature, twisting and turning in its efforts to escape, clear of the beach and away from my body and discovered for the first time how heavy penguins could be.“

(Page 10;12)

Tom Michell bringt den Vogel in das Apartment wo er zu der Zeit wohnt und versucht ihn zu säubern. Nicht ganz leicht, aber der Magellan-Pinguin merkt nach einer Weile, dass der junge Mann ihm helfen will.

Tom Michell succeeded in bringing the bird to the apartment he was living in at this time and tried to clean him. Not an easy thing to do, but the penguin realized after some time, that the young man is trying to help him.

„At the end of an hour’s work I had a recognizable penguin. His back feathers were black again, if not sleek and shine, and his tummy feathers, though not pristine, were at least a greyish sort of white. I let the water out of the bidet for the last time and, when I didn’t refill it, the penguin studied me closely. We regarded each other for some moments as I looked directly at the result of my handiwork.

‚Is that it?`Have you finished? Are we done? I hope you haven’t missed any!‘


I had left him in the bath and on my return to the bathroom he ran up and down in the tub, flapping his wings. His little eyes were sparkling.

‚You’ve been a long time!‘ they said. ‚I was wondering what had happened to you. What have you been doing?‘

Had he been a dog he would have been wagging his tail and I was conceived he was pleased to see me.“

(page 23; 25)

Tom Michell beschreibt in seinen „Penguin Lessons“ wunderbare Begebenheiten die er mit dem Pinguin hat. Sein Name lautet übrigens Juan Salvado. Beide finden ein neues Heim an der Schule an der Tom unterrichtet und die dort lebenden Schüler sind ebenfalls begeistert von dem gefiederten Mitbewohner.

Tom Michell is giving us an amazing insight of what the life with the penguin was like in his „Penguin Lessons“. By the way: the name of the penguin is: Juan Salvado. Both of them find a new home at the school at which Tom is teaching at that time and not only the students are really excited about the new member of the house.

„A day or so later I was a bit surprised when I answered a knock at my door to find a number of groundmen on the threshold to my apartment, their collective gaze aimed directly over my shoulder. All became clear when they explained they wanted to see Juan Salvado, not me. They were delighted when I asked if they’d like to give him his lunch and the men trooped out on to the terrace to feed him some sprats. In no time at all they were duscussing his walks around the college, assuring him that a new lawnmower was on its way to improve the quality of the grass. They hoped he would approve.


I overheard many such conversations between visitors and bird, both in English and Spanish (interestingly, he was quite fluent in both languages), as people went out to pass the time of day. (…) He looked people straight in the eye and always paid such close attention to what was said that his guests were inclined to talk to him on equal terms – they thought him a wise old bird.“

(page 103;104)

Tom Michell erzählt nicht nur von dem Leben an der Schule, sondern nimmt uns auch mit auf seine Reisen, bei denen er die unterschiedlichsten Dinge erlebt. Nichtsdestotrotz bleiben die Episoden mit Juan Salvado das Highlight jeder Seite des Buches.

Tom Mitchell not only tells us about his life at the school at that time, he also takes us with him to some of his travel-locations, to his amazing adventures. But nevertheless the times with Juan Salvado are the highlight of every single site of the book.


Juan Salvado beweist nicht nur Feingefühl im Umgang mit seinen Besuchern, er hat auch – wenn man es so nennen will – pädagogisches Gefühl – im Umgang mit einem Jungen an der Schule, der es schwerer hat als andere – und durch die Hilfe des Pinguins endlich seinen Weg findet.

Juan Salvado is not only really good in listening and caring for his visitors, he also has some – if you would call it that – paedagogic feeling – in helping a young boy at the school who has hard times to finally find his way.

„Sometimes Juan Salvado took the lead and Diego swam as though chasing him. Juan Salvado allowed Diego to get close behind him and then off he would fly again. At other times Diego appeared to lead and the penguin swam round the boy, making figures of eight as though he were spinning a cocoon or weaving a spell. Occasionally they swam so close that they almost touched. This was a sublime pas de deux and I was entranced.

Words cannot describe the magic that was in the air and the water that evening, magic that was operating on so many different levels.


I was almost speechless. I had witnessed an acrobatic (or should that be aquabatic?) display the likes of which I had never seen before. For technical merit and artistic interpretation it would have scored full marks from any judge, but that was not all. Standing quietly by the poolside, watching the penguin and chewing the corner of his towel, was a well-built, little youth who, I was confident, could outswim almost anyone in college. It was simply a revelation. He wasn’t the sad little chap we had become used to, but a very normal boy with a very special talent, and nobody in the college had realized it until that moment.“

(page 183;184)


„The Penguin Lessons“ zeigt uns wie eng ein Mensch und ein Tier zusammenleben können, nicht nur physisch sondern vor allem auf emotionaler Ebene. Juan Salvado hat einen bleibenden Eindruck hinterlassen – nicht nur bei Tom Michell, den Schülern an seiner Schule und anderen einheimischen Leuten, sondern auch beim Leser.

„The Penguin Lessons“ shows us something about how a human being and an animal could live together – not only physical, but for most parts emotional. Juan Salvado has touched so many hearts of so many humans, not only Tom Michell and the students at his school, but also the readers in many different countries.

Man kann nur hoffen, dass Bücher wie diese auch irgendwann einmal den Teil der Menschheit erreichen und beeindrucken, die immernoch die Natur zerstören und sich nicht um die Leben kümmern die sie vernichten!

All we can hope for is that books like that – that they really touch this part of the „humans“ that still destroy wildlife and don’t care much about the lives they are destroying!


Wer ein wunderschön geschriebenes Buch sucht und Tiere mag, dem kann ich „The Penguin Lessons“ nur empfehlen.

I definitely can recommend reading this wonderful book. Other recommendations you can find below.

Weitere Empfehlungen aus dieser Buchkategorie meinerseits sind:


Autor: booksandmore81

Fotografin, Leseratte, Film- & Serienliebhaberin, Tagträumerin.... und noch vieles mehr...

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