The Penguins of Doom
|Author||Greg R. Fishbone|
|Illustrator||Greg R. Fishbone|
|Cover artist||Regan Johnson|
|Series||From the Desk of Septina Nash|
|Genre||Children's, Comedy, Speculative fiction novel|
|Publisher||Blooming Tree Press|
|October 31, 2007|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|ISBN||1-933831-03-0 Search this book on .|
The Penguins of Doom is set in the fictitious city of Conwell, Massachusetts, which is described in the book as a suburb of Boston. Conwell is home to the book's main character, a seventh-grader named Septina Nash, who is one of a set of triplets. In an attempt to locate her missing triplet sister, Sexta, Septina leads an expedition into the fictitious "Frozen Triangle of Doom" region of Antarctica.
The plot is conveyed through letters and notes written by Septina to her teachers, parents, and others. Most of the letters include Septina's doodle-style illustrations.
Septina's early letters tackle her conflicted feelings toward her missing sister, with whom she did not always get along. Septina also describes a series of improbable events, such as the appearance of wild penguins in her hometown, the arrival of a mad scientist who proclaims himself to be Septina's arch enemy, and an encounter with a robot duplicate of herself programmed by the CIA.
Septina attempts to distract herself from her problems, first by pursuing an ambition to become an Olympic-level skateboarder, then by trying to find a husband for her math teacher, and finally by helping a friend collect empty yogurt containers for a radio station contest.
By the end of the novel, Septina learns to somewhat control her talents and locates her sister with the aid of her triplet brother, math teacher, arch enemy, three penguins, and school counselor.
Explanation of the novel's title
The title The Penguins of Doom is derived from the three penguins adopted as pets by Septina. The penguins hail from the Frozen Triangle of Doom section of Antarctica.
Characters in The Penguins of Doom
Septina is a naturally purple-haired seventh-grader who is a cosmic focus for improbable events due to the numerological qualities of her life. These cosmic effects are magnified whenever Septina thinks about numbers, as she might while working on being a math magician. As a result, Septina has never completed a math problem without being interrupted by aliens, bigfoot, mole men, and evil futeristic robots of the city.
Quintus, nicknamed Quinn, is Septina's triplet brother. He is more rational and book smart than his sisters. Septina relies on Quinn heavily to provide a sense of reality and to pull her back from the edge when circumstances veer out of control, as it's sometimes hard for her to tell. When Quinn learns that Septina can control her numerical abilities through concentration, he blames her for unwittingly causing their sister's disappearance.
Sexta is the middle-child of the Nash triplets. Her surly nature and jealousy of Septina's abilities has always caused a strain in the family. Sexta believes that she would have been the magical seventh-born child had she not been unfairly pushed out of the womb by her sister. Sexta leaves home, believing that she is unloved and unwanted, but is surprised by the lengths that Septina and Quinn go through to find her and bring her back.
Sal is the father of the seven Nash children and works as a garbageman for the city of Conwell. Like Septina, he is also the seventh-born child of two seventh-born children. Unlike Septina, Sal has never had any manifestation of numerical powers, but he feels this is because he has never needed them.
Viyayai is the mother of the seven Nash children and works as a clerk at the Lucky Seven convenience store. Like Septina, she is also the seventh-born child of two seventh-born children. Also like Septina, Viyayai has purple hair and a propensity for stretching the truth. Before settling down to raise a family, Viyayai enjoyed a brief career as a gold-medal-winning Olympic skateboarder.
Miss Snoqualmie is Septina's math teacher at O.W. Holmes Middle School in Conwell. She becomes concerned at Septina's inability to work, believing that the girl is unable to focus because of her missing sister. The math teacher's attention leads Septina to believe that Miss Snoqualmie has too much spare time—a problem she seeks to resolve by finding Miss Snoqualmie a husband.
Doctor Fizzwally Fignizzi
Doctor Fignizzi is a mad scientist and self-proclaimed "arch enemy" of Septina Nash. He seeks to sharpen Septina's numerological skills by providing incrementally more difficult problems for her to overcome. Miss Snoqualmie discover that they have much in common that way, during their expedition to Antarctica.
Prescott T. Goode
Mr. Goode is the school counselor at Septina's school. He becomes fascinated by what he believes to be the over-the-top excuses Septina comes up with, which he plans to describe in an article for The Journal of School Counseling. Mr. Goode is infatuated with Miss Snoqualmie but is prevented from asking her out by continual interference from Septina. By the end of the book, Mr. Goode has gone stark-raving mad.
Spots, Stripes, and Solids
Spots, Stripes, and Solids are three penguins who mysteriously appear one morning and follow Septina and Quinn to school. They continue to stalk Septina until she officially adopts them as pets, naming them for the respective patterns on their bow-ties. Quinn never trusts the birds and for good reason—they turn out to be spies for the evil Ice Queen of the Triangle of Frozen Doom.
One of the main themes of the story is numerology and Pythagorian cosmology: the idea that numbers have a mystical relationship with objects and living beings. Septina, as a triplet, a seventh-born child, and the daughter of two seventh-born parents, has a natural affinity to the numbers seven and three. Over the course of the book, she learns to control her number-based abilities to achieve the goal of locating her missing sister.
The novel addresses the reliability of Septina as a narrator, maintaining her truthfulness as an open question until close to the end. Many events Septina describes seem improbable but a deeper truth is often alluded to, as in a letter on the subject of truthfulness written to the school principal. When the issue is pressed by the gym teacher, Miss Gulch, Septina admits to some minor fabrication, but much of the rest of her story is eventually established as factual.
Allusions/references to other works
- Sal and Viyayai Nash previously appeared in a 1995 storyline of the Superguy collaborative shared-universe project, to which the author was a regular contributor.
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- Blooming Tree Press's publisher site
- Greg R. Fishbone's official author site
- Septina Nash official character blog
- The Penguins of Doom official MySpace page
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