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Why I Wrote ‘There Are No Penguins in Alaska’

There are no penguins in Alaska

When I was living in Alaska, I saw a lot of wildlife in the wild. I saw brown bears, black bears, moose, foxes, beluga whales, and other animals while I was hiking – often they were not far from town. It’s an absolutely stunning state, especially in the summer. The one creature I never saw was a penguin because there are no penguins in Alaska. Still, tourists would continue to ask waitstaff, grocery store clerks, and random strangers: How can I see the penguins?

Not the Only Question

It wasn’t the only misconception. Some would say, “I thought all Alaskans lived in igloos.” Others would ask what the exchange rate was or how much the Alaskan dollar was worth. One question that wasn’t based on a stereotype or weird misconception about what country Alaska belonged to was: Do you really get paid to live here? The answer was, “Sort of. Every Alaskan gets a yearly stipend based on an assorted set of mathematical equations and income from minerals and oil. It’s not enough to pay for a year’s expenses, but it is enough to invest well or spend on an unnecessary, large item.

Why Penguins?

So, I heard the question from someone else, even though I was no longer living in Alaska. I decided that I needed to do a children’s book, and it would fit in with my wife’s handmade penguins. I had worked with Antonisa Scott and Transcend Studio for some book covers and thought they could do a great job with the illustrations. Color prices were out of reach, especially with painting, but a coloring book was something I could afford. It’s not hard to see why people might think there are penguins in Alaska. There are a lot of cartoons that put penguins and polar bears together, but real-life polar bears would make a quick meal of a rookery of penguins. Maybe they already have since there are no penguins in Alaska.

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