Book: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr. Popper's PenguinsMr. Popper’s Penguins
Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater
Illustrated by Robert Lawson
1938 (Little, Brown and Co.)

Mr. Popper dreams of visiting the south pole like his hero, Admiral Drake, but he never dreams that the Admiral with answer his fan letter by sending him a penguin for a pet! When Captain Cook, the penguin, arrives at the Poppers’ house there are many adjustments to be made, not the least of which is the arrival of Greta (a female penguin) to keep Captain Cook company, but everyone in the Popper household rolls with the punches remarkably well. It’s not long, however, before the penguins (twelve of them by the time Greta finishes hatching all her eggs) are eating the Poppers out of house and home. The depression is making money especially tight, even without the penguins, so with them things are nearly impossible! Something must be done! Soon the penguins are earning their keep and everything is just fine (more or less).

This is a wonderfully funny book. The story is fast paced and skips along easily from event to event, ignoring the boring bits in between when nothing in particular probably happened. The Poppers are funny and fun in their own right, but it is really the penguins who carry the humor. Their curiosity and ingenuity make for some wonderful scenarios. Occasionally the prose gets a little thick, but never for long and the pictures break up the text nicely.

I actually really love the pictures in this book. They are incredibly expressive, especially the penguins! You can kind of see it on the cover, but many of the interior illustrations are even better. There is one picture near the end where Mr. Popper has his arm covering his face like he’s crying and he’s flanked by two penguins who are obviously concerned, confused and trying to comfort him. It’s a heartbreaking picture, even when you know everything will turn out alright in the end! I just love how much personality the penguins have, especially since they never get differentiated at all. It’s incredibly impressive.

I love this book. It’s easy to see why it has remained so popular for so many years. This book is definitely a classic for a reason. If you haven’t read Mr. Popper’s Penguins, I highly recommend it. If you have, pick it up again sometime! It is just as good now as it was the first time!

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