children’s books

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

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Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Ages 8+

Genre: Realistic family with abnormal animal behavior, humor, 139 pages with some illustrations

Mr. Popper’s Penguins was a delightful read and I used as a read-aloud for 5th graders. I often found myself laughing out loud with the children. The basic idea is a man who loves everything about Antarctica and enjoys listening to explorations. His dreams become reality when a crate arrives with a penguin inside. Of course, there was chaos at first but then the family preformed a show with the arrival of additional penguins. Mr. Popper became a famous person in the city of Stillwater.

Until the recent movie with Jim Carrey, most people weren’t aware of this book since it was published in 1938. It also gained a Newbery Honor Award, which highlighted books for the year but didn’t win the Newbery Award. Now, some may be thinking that I ran out to watch the recent movie with Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, but I decided not to see it. Too often movies based on the book don’t do the book justice, but that’s a whole different topic. Perhaps I should make myself see it to compare the book towards the movie. The published year doesn’t matter, so even after 70 years it’s still a great book. Overall, it’s a very cute and funny book that will cause you to shake your head at the silliness of Mr. Popper.

– opening pages:

It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work….

He had never hunted tigers in India, or climbed the peaks of the Himalayas, or dived for pearls in the South Seas. Above all, he had never seen the Poles.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (page 3 & page 6)