“The Admiral and the Penguin:” Yalowitz shares work from latest children’s book

(Photo by Amanda Martin)

The Mazmanian Art Gallery held its first opening of the academic year on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Professor Paul Yalowitz took the stage showcasing artwork from his recently published children’s book, of which he is both author and illustrator.

In brief, “The Admiral and the Penguin” is about an admiral who decides to steal a penguin and sell it to the zoo. On the boat ride back from capturing the penguin, the ship sinks and the admiral finds himself close to death. However, the penguin saves the admiral by gathering fish and caring for him until their rescue. The admiral neglects all the penguin has done and is met by fame and fortune when he sells the penguin. He only realizes his faults after he returns to the zoo a year later and discovers how sick and depressed the penguin is. Eager to fix what he has done, the admiral steals the penguin back and grants it freedom at the cost of his own imprisonment.

What is now a cohesive and published children’s book, started out as a thumbnail sketch Yalowitz drew on a plane over four years ago. His tiny doodle of a man and a penguin on an iceberg grew into a storyline comprised of empathy and unconditional love. Yalowitz addresses deeper issues of morality and the idea of righting a wrong through the relationship created between the admiral and the penguin.

Yalowitz’s illustrations work with his text to add humor and express what the limited amount of words cannot. The pictures are created using graphite as the primary medium with color pencil as an additional variation seen in few of the drawings. Yalowitz’s illustrations are rich in tonality and pay strong attention to gradient. Yalowitz said, “It’s a bunch of little circles building up layers sometimes there’s two or three layers of graphite to get the right value … It’s like mowing a football field with a pair of scissors.”

Tedious layering and constant revision lay the groundwork for what Yalowitz hopes students can take away from his show: hard work. Yalowitz stresses the importance of perseverance and fighting off self-doubt. “I was always asking myself ‘is this good enough? Are people telling me it’s good because they’re my friends?’… You have to trust the people who give you advice and give you compliments,” said Yalowitz.

Roughly five years after graduating with an Illustration Degree from The School of Visual Arts, Yalowitz began creating children’s books. He started out working for different publishers before deciding to write his own stories. As an author Yalowitz permits the use of deeper and darker material to morally educate readers. He tries to encapsulate stories enjoyable to both adults and children by using wit and hidden references.

Yalowitz stresses the importance of taking initiative and creating projects. “If you’ve got an idea make it happen,” he said. 

Yalowitz finds inspiration from the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and Bugs Bunny. “The Admiral and the Penguin” is Yalowitz’s 13th children’s book to date. However, the professor is already onto his next storyline.

The book is available for $12 through his office.