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Literature / One Cool Friend

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One Cool Friend is a 2012 children's picture book by Toni Buzzeo, with illustrations by David Small.

During a visit to the aquarium, Elliot sees his dream pet: a Magellanic penguin. It's in a tux and has a proper posture, like him. He asks his father for a penguin, and his father, believing he meant a stuffed animal, says yes and gives him money. Elliot picks the smallest penguin from the exhibit and takes it home.


  • Adorably Precocious Child: Elliot is a sharply dressed and bright little boy with impeccable manners, who's not interested in the exhibits at the aquarium that are popular (and crowded) with children, but he still has a childish innocence that excuses him from stealing an animal from an aquarium exhibit.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's revealed to the reader that Elliot's father is totally fine with his son keeping a penguin and himself has a giant tortoise. How much he knew about Magellan and whether Elliot was trying to sneak the penguin around are both left ambiguous.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Elliot tells his father he's going to do research at the library about Magellan (the penguin, not the explorer). His father says in third grade, he got Captain Cook. The reader is made to think he's talking about a research project about James Cook, but since he owns a tortoise named Captain Cook, it's more likely he's telling his son he got the tortoise when he was a third grader.
  • Aside Glance: Elliot looks at the reader at the end, as a smirk upon the reveal that the household has a tortoise, a fact that has been hidden until the last page.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At the end of the book, when Elliot's father discovers Magellan in the bathtub, he calls to his son, "Young man, where did this penguin come from?", seemingly shocked or upset. Elliot answers the penguin came from the southern tip of Argentina. His father says that's right and points out that his tortoise, Captain Cook, is from the Galápagos Islands.
  • Big Eater: Magellan, who's about a foot tall, clears out at least four boxes of frozen seafood from the freezer overnight.
  • Blind Without Them: Elliot's father wears glasses. During the night, he gets a carton of ice cream from the freezer and squints at the carton while not seeing the penguin lounging on the ice tray.
  • Blue Means Cold: The "Cool" in the title is colored light blue, and the same shade of blue is used for the bags of ice that Elliot buys for Magellan.
  • Color Contrast: The Splash of Color in several illustrations has a lot of contrasting color, like Magellan's red scarf and backpack contrasting blue ice packs, and Elliot's father's green clothes contrasting his red hair.
  • Foreshadowing: At home, whenever Elliot's father shows up, he has his feet propped on a large green footstool, and he owns a lot of green and turtle/tortoise-themed items. Turns out the footstool is his tortoise, hence why he has no qualms about Elliot keeping a penguin.
  • Medium Blending: The illustrations are in ink, ink wash, and colored pencil. A few pages mix in photos, scientific diagrams, and text.
  • Named After Somebody Famous:
    • The species of penguin Elliot encounters is the Magellanic penguin. He names the one he takes home Magellan.
    • Elliot's father named his tortoise Captain Cook.
  • Pun-Based Title: There's more than one way to interpret "Cool" when describing a penguin friend.
  • The Reveal: Despite Elliot seemingly trying to hide Magellan's presence in their home, Elliot's father is not ignorant of the penguin and is totally OK with Elliot keeping one. The last page also reveals that Elliot's father has a tortoise named Captain Cook.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Much younger than the typical subject of this trope. Elliot is a sharp-dressed little boy with good manners. The black-and-white penguins at the aquarium remind him of himself.
  • Speech Bubbles: All of the dialogue is written in line with the rest of the book's text but is wrapped in a speech bubble. Even the blurb on the dust jacket has the lines by Elliot and his father in speech bubbles.
  • Splash of Color: Most illustrations have objects in a grayscale wash save for a couple of things that are colored, such as the aquarium being blue, Elliot's backpack colored red, and Elliot's father having a green theme.
  • Theme Naming: Elliot and his father both named their pets after explorers: Magellan the penguin and Captain Cook the tortoise.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Elliot "adopts" Magellan because the penguin's appearance and mannerism remind Elliot of himself. His father, as a bit of Foreshadowing, looks like a tortoise with his roundness and green clothing, and at the end of the book, he is shown to own a green Galápagos tortoise.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Ms. Stanbridge the librarian looks at Magellan and provides Elliot library resources on penguins and the Antarctic without blinking an eye.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Strait-laced and tuxedo-wearing Elliot adopts a penguin, and his lenient, absentminded father, who loves tortoises enough to have a themed scrub brush, owns a tortoise named Captain Cook.