Interview with John Burns and Pengey the Penguin

Pengey Penguin

Welcome to another segment of Interview an Author.  I am very excited about this particular interview because it is a dual interview with the author and the main character of his book, The Adventures of Pengey Penguin.   Pengey wanted to be included and I promised him I would never leave him out.

But first I would like to give you my review.  I recently read this cute and endearing book and fell in love with the character, Pengey.  Pengey is an Emperor penguin who has excellent manners and people skills even though he had never met any people.  He is always polite, kind and sensitive to others’ feelings.  He is an excellent role model for children.  He has a sweet way of tugging at your heartstrings by his adorable cooing and bowing and he even learns to talk like humans.

Pengey goes on incredible adventures from Antarctica to New York to find his friend, Wendy, the human, who he befriends in times of strife.  He is abandoned by his mother and father when they each in turn go in search for food for him and don’t return.  He is left to care for his own needs but finds no assistance from the other penguins.  In order to survive he is forced to venture out on his own and discovers humans.  Wendy feeds Pengey preventing him from starving and then has to leave to return to her home in New York.  Pengey gets so attached to her that he runs after her and travels far and wide to find her.  During his travels he meets other animals who help him along his way.   There is Lionel, the macaw, Rufus, the puffin, Rafael, the lizard and another human, Jean, the shipman.  Your children will love all these characters who all have their own distinct personalities and will win over the affections of your children.  This is a must read for young children to preteens.

Now let us being the interview so we can learn more about this exciting author and his adorable character, Pengey.  If you don’t mind John, can we begin with questions for Pengey.  I know he is anxious to speak to all my readers.

Pengey Penguin 1

Dear Janice,

Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to be on your Interview. I hope that I can live up to being a good roll model for kids ‘cause it is tough to be a kid, and I know ‘cause I’m a kid except I’m a penguin.

I will try to answer your questions –. . . .  oops – darn . . . 1[q04e[ywehfovbcx—— oops! ‘Pop’ flipper got stuck.  Okay! I am ready.

Questions for Pengey

1.  What is your favorite thing to do?

Well . . . you know? I am trying to trim down just a smidgen. I suspect you might be able to tell, by the size and shape of my tummy, that I like to eat. You see eating for me means that I get to go swimming and that is my other very most favorite thing in the whole wide world to do because . . . I get to eat at the same time. I also really, really like spending lots of time with my adopted Human mom, Wendy. She is the best Human that’s ever been. Wendy makes me feel: safe and smart and secure. She teaches me stuff and gets me fresh fish. Oops! There I go with eating again.

2.  What fish do you prefer to eat?

“Hmm??? It’s hard to decide which I like the best. In human terms it would be like trying to choose between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. But I will try to decide. Krill is a very tasty snack but you have to eat a lot of them to get filled up. They are very good for us penguins because they’re filled with vitamins and omega 3 oils. I really like anchovies, and penguin pizza. It’s made with seaweed crust, clam sauce and little shrimps on top, yum, yum, yummy!

3.  If you could pick a place to live, where would that be?

I might go back to Antarctica one day because that’s the real home of my family. Happily, I live in New York City, with Wendy. It is the most fascinating city there is. We have a nice apartment on the upper eastside at the fourteenth floor. It overlooks Central Park and I can see the duck pond from our balcony. The duck pond is where I meet all my new friends these days. None of them are penguins. They are the fury animals that live in the park. There is: Barrington Badger, and Sonja Bunny, Throgmortin and Dexter Squirrel, Felicity Ferret, Quincy Blue Bird, Allison Skunk, Timothy Mouse and many more.  Naturally my best friend Lionel Macaw visits with me every day.

4.  Is there something about yourself you would like to share?

No. I’m sorta’ too shy to talk about me. But I would like to say that I’m proud to be a good influence in the lives of so many kids everywhere. I’m very happy to know that kids learn from my books, and short stories that being polite, and smart and pondering the options at hand before deciding what to do are really cool things to do. That kids find my adventures a happy place to be is also very nifty.

5.  Do you want John to write more adventures for you?

Yes. I mean, of course. John has already written and published my second novel, “The Further Adventures of Pengey Penguin.” The third and fourth novels are complete but not published. Volumes 2, 3, and 4 are each much longer than my first book. John also wrote seven short stories about me, and my pals. John has even produced some of the best audio theater CD’s and audio books with me in them.

6.  What would be your dream adventure?

I don’t really know. I’m just a little kid. I get in trouble ‘cause of my curiosity and ‘cause I like catching the bad guy’s and that’s what takes me on adventures. Thank goodness my best friend Lionel is around everyday to help. Still, it’s John who knows, he is the storyteller and I am very glad that he chose me to tell stories about. Your Pal, Pengey Penguin.


Hi Janice,

Let me say, thank you very much for your interest in me, and Pengey Penguin.

1.  When did you first start writing?

Creative writing came directly after I wrote a US Patent. That was an incredible learning experience and a mechanical writing assignment, filled with legal ease and unlike anything else in the field of writing. I was a single dad at the time raising my two very young daughters. It was then that I became interested in creative writing for children. Around 1989 when I wrote and illustrated my first children’s picture book. My agent worked tirelessly to secure a contract with a major publishing house but that effort did not launch. It is still a charming picture book. I maintain the copyrights and plan to publish it one day.

2.  What inspires you to write?

Life. I’ve seen a lot of life in my almost 70 years. I’ve looked death in the face a dozen times and somehow walked away. I counted my blessing though, I can assure you of that, but I never looked back. Still, neither my own personal life experiences, brushes with my maker, nor my friends, not even my dreams are inspiration for my internal literary machine. I write because I am compelled to tell a story and the best way I have to do that, at present, is to write. Once a story enters my head I work tirelessly to complete a telling of it.

3.  How did you come up this adorable character, Pengey?

The Pengey Penguin Series came about after I wrote the screenplay for, “Dance in Her Shoes.”  I became frustrated because the script got put into turnaround because Shirley MacClaine was making a movie with the vaguely similar title, “In Her Shoes.”  Once a script goes into turnaround it will never get made. I decided to write something completely different but had no ideas. I remembered a picture of a baby emperor penguin I’d seen when I was a kid.  I remembered how incredibly cute they are and the thought popped into my head that probably they had not been exploited as characters in children’s books. A little research proved that there were indeed not many penguin characters in children’s literature, and those that did exist were portrayed as stumbling fools, or the semi-smart clown. I asked my wife what she thought about a penguin as the main character in a children’s book and she asked, “What would you name it?” “Pengey.” I said. “I like it,” came her reply. Pengey was born and I went to work on the first novel. Five weeks later the story was finished. It was published in 2005 at the same time that “March of the Penguins,” the amazing film that explored the life cycle of the emperor penguin was in theaters. While the movie isn’t a fairytale it did do a lot to spur sales of, The Many Adventures of Pengey Penguin.”  I don’t know what to call this serendipity, the timing of the whole thing, fate, blind luck or ?.. But that Pengey’s Adventures came out when that film was in the theaters was pretty amazing.

4.  Is Pengey going to be a series?

Yes. Pengey is a series. I am working on the fifth novel and plan to complete the series at six. I will say, with each new novel Pengey grows up a little and so do the storylines. I have over 1000 pages in print, but only a little over 500 of those pages are available to the general public. Only Pengey fans who purchase books or Pengey T-shirts, or Polo Shirts from my website have free access to the Pengey Short Stories and to the audio books I produced for blind children.

5.  How many books have you written?

Including my feature film screenplays over 20.

6.  Please share the titles of your books and a synopsis of each.

Because titles are like the jewel in the crown, I never give out the titles of my unpublished work. I’m really good at titles.

7.  What do you like to do in your spare time, when you have some?

I love to take weekdays off and go on picnics, up to Sonoma or Napa, California’s wine country, with my amazing wife of 20 years. I take pleasure in these day trips especially in the summer when it is rather chilly and breezy in San Francisco and the countryside is enjoying warm summer days and evenings like I remember from when I was a child. I also teach golf to underprivileged kids for the City of San Francisco’s Department of Parks and Recreation, I love to read but perhaps love to write even more.

8.  Do you have a current project you are working on?

I work 60 hours a week. I’m constantly immersed in the development of the next Pengey novel.

9.  What else would you like to share with my readers?

I don’t know your readers yet, but if they buy Pengey’s novels direct, we will get to know each other. It’s been a consistent occurrence over the years. Kids feel like Pengey is a real living, talking penguin, and he’s their pal. Kids write to him. Pengey writes back and always signs his e-mail, ‘Your Pal. It’s hard work and charming especially when we set up the phones for the kids to call Pengey at Santa’s workshop on Christmas Eve. We keep the phone number of the North Pole secret until the second week of December. I’m always helping the little scamp because he constantly sends B-day, Christmas, Valentine’s, and St. Patrick’s Day e-cards. Did you know that Pengey keeps a list of all his fans’ birthdays?

10.  Please give us your website, blog and where to purchase your books?

When you order directly from us you can include the name(s) of your children in the order form. With the child’s name I autograph each book with a personalized salutation. Shipping is done with Priority Mail, you have your purchases in 2-3 days. Our website is the exclusive point of sales for the sequel, “The Further Adventures of Pengey Penguin,” and the upcoming release of Pengey Three and Pengey Four. It’s the only point of sales for the audio CD of, “Pengey and The Ladybug”, Pengey T-shirts and Polos. Pengey keeps a Blog on the website and I must admit he has a flair for writing news about penguins and Antarctic. It’s kind of funny too. Pengey’s website is

Thank you Pengey and John for visiting with me and my readers today.  That was a fascinating and interesting interview.  I feel that I now know both of you better.  I look forward to reading the next Pengey book, The Further Adventures of Pengey Penguin.

Thank you readers for stopping by today to read about adorable Pengey, the penguin and the extremely creative and talented John Burns.  Please stop by Pengey’s website and check out all the news and books and T-shirts available for your children.  They will fall in love with Pengey as I have done.


Thought of the day:  Think Positive Thoughts!!!

About jjspina

Janice is an multi-award-winning author with 39 books: 19 children's books for PS-Gr 4, 12 middle-grade/preteen, two young adult books, written under Janice Spina, and 5 novels, and a short story collection written under J.E. Spina. She is also a writer of poetry, blogger, avid reader, reviewer and a copy editor. Janice has always loved writing and started very young writing poetry, then stories. Her books have received 31 Book Awards and a few finalists awards. All Janice's books are available on, Kindle, B&N and other online book sites. One of her sports' poems was published in The Lawrence Eagle Tribune in October of 2008. She is currently working on book 2 of a YA fantasy series. There will be six books in all in this series. She hopes to work on a series of four books in a crime/mystery genre that will be offsprings of her thriller, Hunting Mariah. There are books in the works about an angel and another about a dog for ages 17+. Her hobbies are crocheting, walking to keep fit, hula hooping, tap dancing, going to the movies with her husband, and spending time with her five grandchildren. Janice loves to hear from readers and appreciates reviews. Sign up on her blog for a copy of her newsletters under Contact Me. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband who is her illustrator and cover creator.
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3 Responses to Interview with John Burns and Pengey the Penguin

  1. Deanie Dunne says:

    What an adorable interview with Penguey and John! Penguey is so cute and John is really talented to be able to create such cute, special stories. Great job again, Janice!

    • jjspina says:

      Thanks Deanie. I just love Pengey! Children everywhere will fall in love with him too. John Burns is quite a talent to come up with this sweet and lovable character and market him as his own person. Brilliant!

  2. Pingback: Interview with John Burns and Pengey the Penguin | 2020 Future

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