Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Reviewed by Jennifer


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1939 Newbery Honor Book


At the end of September, Mr. Popper’s painting work dries up until Spring, freeing him to spend his winter reading about all the places he would like to visit. Fascinated with the South Pole and penguins in particular, Mr. Popper writes a letter to Admiral Drake, the man leading an antarctic expedition and broadcasting his team’s adventures over the radio. In the first broadcast, Admiral Drake thanks Mr. Popper for his letter and tells him to expect a surprise from the South Pole. Shortly after, the surprise arrives in the form of a real live penguin! Mr. Popper and his children are thrilled! Mrs. Popper less so, but the penguin is an interesting distraction for Mr. Popper who sometimes gets underfoot while cooped up inside all winter. One penguin eventually becomes 12 and with no income, Mr. and Mrs. Popper wonder how they will manage to fill the mouths of all the penguins, two children and themselves. Ever the optimist, and quite resourceful, Mr. Popper trains the penguins and then takes his family and the performing penguins on a grand tour of the country, with shows in almost every major city. They all have a wonderful time, but before their last show, Mr. Popper finds himself in jail and the penguins longing for a colder clime. Admiral Drake arrives just in time to save the day and provide another, quite different adventure for Mr. Popper and his performing penguins.

I read this aloud to my two youngest boys and they thought it was great! A sweet story that is definitely from a bygone era, but with lasting appeal for kids who are enchanted with animals and their antics. Appropriate for all ages.

One Response to “Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater”

  1. Ellen Says:

    I loved this book! A true classic.

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