Penguins Can't Fly Or Can They? | Rockford Musician Says Anything Is Possible In Her New Books

Mar 10, 2021

A Rockford musician released a series of children’s books.

Jennifer Lak-Kielman, Dorothy Paige-Turner and Erich Hagenlocher.
Credit Kate Kilgore

“Thembu the South African Penguin – Tales of Possibilities” highlights a young bird living with autism spectrum disorder.  

Dorothy Paige-Turner created the three books in the series. She said the South African penguin fascinates her. 

“But because of my total and complete interest in the children with autism spectrum disorder,” she said, “and I have a child whose life I've followed since he was four years old, who is a part of the spectrum, I decided that this story was going to be 'Thembu the South African Penguin.'” 

The premise of the books is “Anything is possible; just give it some time.”

“And that's the message not only for children of autism,” Paige-Turner adds, “but for every child out there who feels that they are struggling, trying to fit in, struggling trying to learn. Just give it some time, and you can do it.” 

The books take readers on the journey of a young penguin who develops slower than other penguins but eventually masters all that he sets out to do.

Paige-Turner said the books were printed with the help of a grant from the Kiwanis Club of Rockford and the Rockford Area Arts Council.   

The series is being distributed to early childhood teachers in the city. Illustrations are by Veronica Soria Martinez and the cover was designed by Mark Bond. Both educators had help from their students. Paige-Turner said she wants to make these books available to a wider audience. 

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at