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Book Review: Einstein the Penguin: The Case of the Fishy Detective by Iona Rangeley (HarperCollins)

Illustrated by David Tazzyman

For ages 7+

Hurray, it must be nearly Christmas. Einstein is back! I'm so pleased that last year's funny and heart-warming detective story 'Einstein the Penguin' wasn't a one-off from the young debut children's author Iona Rangeley.

This is a super fun series for readers transitioning to more wordy chapter books who still enjoy illustrations accompanying their text. I very much enjoy this cosy series about a London-based family whose lives are turned upside down as they embark on another V.I.P. (Very Important Penguin - like how I did that?) rescue mission together. Wonderful for gifting and libraries. Perfect for a bedtime story.

About the book

The Stewart family are really missing Einstein - a super-sleuth penguin and very close friend especially to the two children, Imogen and Arthur. Einstein is now back at the zoo in Sydney, Australia following book 1's daring rescue by the children to prise Einstein from the clutches of a crooked detective known as Detective Bill Hunter.

Imogen is struggling. She’s missing Einstein ever so much. Life just isn't the same, as he had brought them all so much joy, and school was more bearable too. Imogen's passion is detecting, she is always to be found with her little notebook where she takes down everything and anything that might just be useful for solving a crime as and when it might happen!

Although the family have regular video calls with Einstein and his keeper at the zoo in Australia, it’s just not enough! Imogen simply has to find a way to get him back to London.

Illustration © David Tazzyman
Illustration © David Tazzyman

Out of curiosity, Imogen and her little brother Arthur search online to find out what happened to Detective Hunter, only to find he was fired, then set up an animal advertising agency… a plan starts to form… Imogen is so so desperate, her heart rules her head and she collaborates with him to fly Einstein back to London to take part in a fish fingers advert!!

Einstein fans, do we trust ex-Detective Bill Hunter as far as we can throw him? No way! Right!? Leopards don’t change their spots, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree etc…

The trusting nature of children and their desire to do good blinds Imogen and Arthur to get unwittingly involved in yet another dastardly kidnap attempt by the seriously dodgy Bill Hunter!! Piecing together clues and learning to trust and respect each other’s differing detecting strengths, Imogen and Arthur decide to lead a daring rescue mission to uncover the whereabouts of Einstein, who kidnapped him and why.

Illustration © David Tazzyman
Illustration © David Tazzyman

I intentionally sought out this sequel, as last year I had reviewed the first in the series whilst managing the Moon Lane bookshop in Ramsgate, Kent and absolutely loved it; and as a result was going big on the hand sell as it made a lovely Christmas stocking filler. At the time, the cosy and heart-warming story felt like a wonderful antidote to the lockdown-era. Last year’s Christmas was the first we could all celebrate feeling a sense of hope of normality for 2022 especially with a story that ended up with a happy family Christmas Day celebration at the end of the adventure. ‘Einstein the Penguin: The Case of the Fishy Detective’ delivers the same and more... we get to spend more time with the Stewart family and their funny, adored, clever and faithful penguin friend - Einstein.

Illustration © David Tazzyman
Illustration © David Tazzyman

This series has a super collectibility feeling about it. Notwithstanding the very cool, Einstein-tastic end papers, book 1 features an ultra bright orange book binding, and book 2 a bright green binding. Glorious for rainbow bookshelf organisers! David Tazzyman’s cheerful and expressive illustrations bring Einstein and his adventures unforgettably to life. I look forward to next year’s pre-Christmas dose of heartfelt cheer from author, Iona Rangeley’s Einstein detective series.

About the creators

Iona Rangeley (author)

Iona has just finished studying English at Oxford. She hasn’t really done anything with her life yet but has lots of plans. She has wanted to be a writer since her debut novel ‘Sam and the Pig’, which she wrote when she was five. The children’s author thing was brought on by regression in the face of university exams. On a school trip in Year 8 she made a £5 bet that she would be published in her early twenties, and unfortunately she can’t afford to lose that kind of money at the moment. Einstein the Penguin was her first children’s novel.


David Tazzyman (illustrator)

David Tazzyman grew up in Leicester, studied illustration at Manchester Metropolitan University, and then travelled around Asia for three years before moving to London in 1997. He likes football, cricket, biscuits, music, and drawing. He dislikes celery.


Key themes








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Publication date: 13 October 2022

Format: Hardback

Also available in this series:

(also available in Hardback)

Praise for Einstein the Penguin:

“An outstanding debut, this book is funny and surprising and would be a joy to read aloud”

-The Times Best Books for Children 2021

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