Review: Penguins with People Problems by Mary Laura Philpott

This is something my friends would instantly describe as a “Mary Problem.”

I’m currently finishing up my final class to complete my masters degree, and one of my assignments was to go to a bookstore event and evaluate the event from a publicity standpoint.

Barnes & Noble was to host a discussion and screening event comparing To Kill a Mockingbird the book to the 1962 film adaptation with Gregory Peck. Not all Barnes & Noble stores were hosting the event, but I knew the one down the street from where I work was. The event was to begin at 7 p.m. and I had arrived around 6:30 p.m., as I like to scope out seats well in advance.

Long story short, I was sitting in the cafe reading, waiting for this event. I looked up and Penguins with People Problems was staring at me. Anyone who knows me know that it’s a dangerous thing when I see penguins on a book cover… or anywhere.

Don’t believe me?

And this isn't even the half of it.

And this isn’t even the half of it.


Waddles Sr. and Jr. love it, too!

Waddles Sr. and Jr. love it, too!

Penguins with People Problems
Mary Laura Philpott
Perigree Books; June 2, 2015
Hardcover, 112 pages

What I left out in my somewhat verbose story was that I was also feeling really down that day. Stressed, tired, sad… So all I wanted to do was go to this event, take notes, and write-up my assignment.


This book made me forget all of that. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. The little caricature drawings of the penguins are simplistic but goofy and the little blurbs next to each describe the penguins’ mayhem well enough.

The first page of the book is a letter from Mary Laura, which explains the inspiration for the book: the merging of two of the Big Six publishers, Penguin and Random House. Also, let’s be real, who didn’t think “Random Penguin” was going to be their new name? As a result of the merger, Mary Laura began drawing and so the premise of the book was born.

Your friend asks for your opinion on her bronzer self-tan? What’s the name of the person next to you, even though the acceptable point of asking has past? Torn on what to wear for the evening? Trying to overcome a break up, a bad habit or too much honestly? These penguins prove to you just how ridiculous some of our “people problems” are.

I wish I could say more but the illustrations are really what make this book. You can view some of them on the Random Penguins Tumblr, but to get the full penguin experience, you have to read this book.

Adult, child, teen, grandma: It really doesn’t matter who, everyone who enjoys silliness and a new lens to reevaluate their daily problems will love this book. Seriously. I went home smiling and excited to finish the book. What was my issue again that day? I don’t even remember.

Rating: 5/5
Purchased Book for Personal Collection


In the end, the To Kill a Mockingbird event never happened. At 7:01 I asked an associate if it was still happening; she called her manager and was told the event was “canceled” (or they didn’t really do anything about it) because it didn’t gain enough attention. In the end I got a Go Set a Watchman button for coming out (typical “Mary Problem”)… and I got Penguins with People Problems, so it wasn’t completely fruitless.

2 thoughts on “Review: Penguins with People Problems by Mary Laura Philpott

    • Mary says:

      DO IT. It’s seriously hilarious. This is one of those visual things you need to experience, and her Tumblr only provides so much. I can’t wait for you to read it!


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