Mr. Popper’s Penguins

A NEWBERY HONOR BOOK

Richard & Florence Atwater, authors

Robert Lawson, illustrator

Boston : Little, Brown and Co., 1938

138 pp

ages 4 and up              (chapter book to read aloud)

Interests: penguins, antarctic

A humble housepainter who dreams of travel writes to an antarctic explorer. When said explorer ships a real, live penguin to his door, his whole world quickly changes. His practical wife may shake her head, but his kids are over the moon. The whole family bends over backwards to accomodate their new pet, even finding a mate for him when he gets lonely. This leads of course to a whole troupe of little penguins as well. Keeping the birds chilled and fed is breaking the bank, until Popper gets the grand idea of training them for the stage… At the end of their theatrical tour, and at the height of their fame, the Poppers finally meet the famous antarctic explorer who started the whole chain of events, and he makes an unexpected proposition.

A lovely family story about a very ordinary family living with a dozen extraordinary birds. There’s lots of detail regarding the housing and feeding of the strange pets, including the escalating costs. The episodes are amusingly mundane and believable, even when Popper opens all the windows in the winter and turns his living room into a skating rink. Their adventures in show business are also very entertaining and the unexpected ending is satisfying.

Another good beginner chapter book, for reading aloud.  Who doesn’t love penguins? The chapters are not very long, and the illustrations are quite funny. (Lawson also illustrated Ferdinand the Bull, if the style looks familiar.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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