Penguin

Annabel Kleinknecht, age 11
Penguin Annabel Kleinknecht is proudly neurodivergent. She lives in NYC with her mom, dad, and three siblings. She wrote this story when she was 10 years old.

“My mom was making me walk through the streets of South Africa. My dad had gotten a new job so we moved from New York to South Africa and now I didn’t have any friends. Suddenly, as I was about to turn back and head home, I saw something that made me jump. It was a baby penguin being attacked by a seagull. Before I knew it, I was running at the seagull and screaming, and then the seagull flew away.”

My mom was making me walk through the streets of South Africa. My dad had gotten a new job so we moved from New York to South Africa and now I didn’t have any friends. Suddenly, as I was about to turn back and head home, I saw something that made me jump. It was a baby penguin being attacked by a seagull. Before I knew it, I was running at the seagull and screaming, and then the seagull flew away. I saw that this baby’s parents were dead, so I decided to keep the chick and raise her until she was old enough to leave my house.  

Two weeks later, the penguin chick, who I named Joanne (after Johannesburg street, where she was found), was almost ready to leave the nest (or house). I was feeding her raw fish that I had blended into a chunky smoothie. I made a nest for her in my room under a heat lamp out of leaves, sticks, and petals. Also, I let her swim in my kiddie pool. Finally, she was almost ready and I gave her the first whole fish to celebrate. 

After all these months, it was time for Joanne to leave and go into the sea. I was going to be all alone again, and I might never see her again, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I led the first (and only) feathered friend I had to the beach. There, I watched as she jumped into the waves of the South African ocean. 

One Year Later… 

My family and I had moved into a house and I had made friends. When it was penguin breeding time, and a penguin made a nest, I recognized the penguin. It was Joanne! I knew she would always be with me no matter what. 

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