116 of 122 people found the following review helpful
I've lived 26 years on this earth. In those 26 years I've learned a lot about children's books. I've learned which ones are considered the holiest of holies and which are to be condemned and spat upon. So I was completely taken aback when I learned that there was a 1938 children's book that absolutely no one had ever told me to read before. "Mr. Popper's Penguins" was a delight to discover. Suddenly I was privy to reading a charming story of a man and his penguins, and I had never even heard a peep about this tale from anyone. What gives? Why isn't "Mr. Popper's Penguins" as well-known and well-read as "Cheaper by the Dozen" or "Stuart Little"? There is no answer to this question. There is only this wonderful book, well-illustrated and magnificently written for the younger set.
Mr. Popper is a house painter, and mostly a good one. True, he does sometimes fall into fits of fancy, dreaming about the Arctic explorers and the ice floes to the North and South. His wife and children don't necessarily understand his dreams, but that doesn't sway Mr. Popper. One day, out of the blue, he receives word that one of the great explorers he wrote, Admiral Drake, read his letter and is sending him a present. As any child who remembers the title of the book might guess, a penguin comes hopping out of a newly delivered crate the next day. Mr. Popper is charmed by the little guest, and names him Captain Cook. Cook is a curious beasty, and the Poppers do everything from outfitting their refrigerator to taking Captain Cook for walks. When the penguin falls into a deep depression it is only the delivery of a second penguin from the zoo, Gerta, that cheers him up. Soon the penguin pair lay some eggs and the Popper household is privy to ten more lovely jumpy penguins. With money hard to come by it takes a clever Mr. Popper to come up with a way to make his penguins not only profitable, but stars.
First of all, make certain that if you are reading a version of this story that you have grabbed one that has Robert Lawson's beautiful illustrations. The same illustrator that's responsible for the lovable picture book, "Ferdinand the Bull" has switched his focus from beef to fowl. These penguins are remarkably well drawn, from their inquisitive little eys to their ugly webbed feet. If you've never seen a Lawson illustration, here would be a good place to start. The writing of Richard and Florence Atwater is extremely readable for anyone of any age. The phrase, "they just don't make `em like that anymore" is unfair, but also kind of true. There's something to the simplicity of this book that you just can't find anywhere else. It is, all in all, just fantastic. And with Lawson's adept renderings of all the characters and situations, you are left in no doubt that this is one of the best books of this or any other age.
So a great wrong has been righted. I am no longer in the dark regarding "Mr. Popper's Penguins". If you'd like to introduce your kids (or, heaven forfend, yourself) to a fantastic piece of penguin rookery, grab yourself a copy of this l'il number. It's bound to make you a fan.
115 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2000
My daughter recently brought this book home, and after reading only one page, I went and bought my own copy! I had to have this for my classroom!
I teach children with mild to moderate specific learning disabilities who need to regularly experience success in reading if they are ever going to become lifelong readers. What better way to foster desired literacy behaviors than using this delightful tale of an absentminded housepainter, his tidy, yet serious wife, their two children, and 12 performing penguins!
After reading this book, I thought that it would be ideal to use as the focus of a thematic unit on penguins. Believe it or not, there are many themes in the book that lend themselves to serious classroom discussion. For example, Mr. Popper daydreams of far-away places. There is the theme of daydreaming, why people daydream, as well as the theme of travel. Students could be asked to journal about their daydreams, as well as their hopes and dreams of visiting faraway places, which leads into a study of the geography and culture of other people.
In my 6th grade language arts class, I plan on focusing on the 17 different types of penguins there are, where they are found, some of their habits, as well as studying about polar exploration. Thanks to this timeless tale, I have a wealth information to use for exploration with my own class.
Mr. Popper's Penguins is a wonderful example of how a well written trade book can be used across the curriculum, to foster lifelong literacy habits, and broaden a child's horizon.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2000
My Grade 4 students gobble up this book! I include it in several " thematic literature kits": animal stories, award winners, and humourous stories. Reluctant readers are especially attracted to it, as it isn't difficult to read independently. It really grabs their attention and makes them laugh out loud. Even slow readers work hard to make their way through this novel.
Kids especially love all the penguins, their hilarious antics, and the bizarre trouble they get into.
It's also full of very interesting knowledge. We delve a little into history, getting a glimpse of life in the 1930's. We learn some geography, about exploration of the Arctic and Antarctic. And we certainly learn about penguins!
Written in the 1930's, this book has become a classic that hasn't lost any of its appeal for kids today. I've never seen a kid who didn't love it!
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2000
I read this book and thought is was cute, funny, and a great read! The charecters are: Mr. Popper, a man very interested in the arctic, Mrs. Popper who is his wife, thier children Janie and Bill, the 12 penguins, Mr. Greenbuam who owns a theater, and Admiral Drake who is an arctic explorer. Mr. Popper is sent a penguin by Admiral Drake. When the penguin gets sick the aquarium sends Mr. Popper a girl penguin, and, naturally the 2 have babies.The Poppers cannot affford the penguins, so Mr. Popper decides to let them perform on stage. Mr. Greenbaum lets them use his stage, and the family gets richer and richer. At the end Admiral Drake comes and asks Mr. Popper if he would like to take the performing penguins and himself to the South Pole for 2 years. Mr. Popper says yes. I hope you read this book because it is wonderful.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 1999
A house painter who loves the Arctic is in for the surprise of his life. He receives a penguin from the famous Admiral Drake and his life changes forever. The penguin gets lonely and sick so Mr. Popper must get him another to help his buddy. The the fun starts when the other penguin has the little penguins. This book touched my every emotion. It would make you laugh on one page then scare you on the next. It would keep you on the edge of your seat in supense and ease you with laughter. I was intrigued by the way that one event led into the next. If comedy is what you like along with the drama then Mr. Popper's Penguins would make a great choice for your next book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2005
Mr. Popper's Penguins was written by Richard and Florence Atwater in 1938. This book is so popular it has become a classic of American humor.
Mr. Poper is a gentle, untidy, and sometimes absent-minded house painter. He and his wife and their two children, Jamie and Bill, live in a simple home in Stillwater. His favorite pastime is to dream about going to the Poles. One day, Mr. Popper receives a surprise in the mail from Admiral Drake, the famous Antarctic explorer. Inside the box there was an Antarctic penguin. Mr. Popper was so thrilled to have a penguin as a pet. From that point, the Popper family's life is completely changed.
Mr. Popper named the penguin Captain Cook. Captain Coook caused a series off confusing, scary, and exciting events in the town of Stillwater, but eventually it was adopted and adored by all the neighbors. The Poppers have to make many changes and sacrifices to care for Captian Cook. However, they enjoy the fun, the adventure, and the happiness with the penguin. Subsequently, the Poppers inherit a female penguin named Greta from an aquarium in Mammath City. Together Captain Cook and Greta have ten more peguin chicks.
Mr. and Mrs. Popper came up with a spendid idea. They wanted to train the talented penguins to perform on stage. The performance was a success and became famous across the country. THe Poppers had a chance to travel from east to west during the penguins' ten-week performance and to earn enough money to pay back all the expenses for supporting the penguins. After ten weeks of performance, Mr. Popper is faced with a very important decision for the twelve penguins' future. He can either take the penguins to Hollywoood to make a lot of money or send them to the North Pole to keep the lonely explorers company.
This book is very well written. The stirt is interesting, the characters are heart-warming, the details are funny. The dialogues and the silly pictures in the book are very entertaining. The author does a good job in describing the curious, lively, and funny penguins. I enjoyed reading this book very much and I hope you will like it as well.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2006
I loved this book when my second grade teacher read it to us over 43 years ago. My second graders love it today. There are so many extras to learn with the actual story - what life was like before television, when people traveled by train, when people went to see newsreels, when people saw trained animal acts at the theater... And they love all the funny things that happen to poor Mr. Popper and his family. They learned about Antarctica and the explorers like Admiral Drake and Captain Cook. They wrote about how they thought the story would end. Then they wrote letters back home but I don't want to give any more away. You'll fall for these lovable penguins and their family too!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2006
Mr. Popper's Penguins is an easy read for a twelve-year old boy, and I found it enjoyable. It wasn't necessarily suspenseful, but each chapter ended with a problem that needed to be solved. This book would be great to use for a book report. The characters in the story are well developed and can be compared and contrasted. It would also be a great read-aloud for little children because of the silliness in it.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2000
The key to this eternally wonderful book is that dreams do come true even to ordinary people . Mr. Popper is one of us and his desire to experience adventure is rewarded by a gift, the penguins of the North Pole he so years for. Following their arrival, the situation gets extremely silly and complicated. The family must adjust to penguin life. But, through it all, the family does adjust and experience a joy that seldom occurs to ordinary man in his routine life. The book is funny and endearing. Whether you read it aloud to your family or hand it to a child to read, it will be treasured for years to come. Now, could somone go out there and out it in pop up form for the younger crowd? (I'll buy one!)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2006
The book Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is about a family going from poor to rich. I recommend this book to anyone who needs a laugh. The Popper family lived in Stillwater. In the book, the Penguin Mr. Popper receives is a very funny Penguin, and $5,000 a week is good.
In Mr. Popper's Penguins Mr. Popper is poor. Admiral Drake, an explorer, sends Mr. Popper a Penguin as a present. Then Captain Cook (the penguin) becomes ill, Greta comes and then 10 more! Mr. and Mrs. Popper train them. After a while the Penguins are ready to perform in any theater in the country.
Mr. Popper and his family own the Penguins. Mrs. Popper is the wife of Mr. Popper. Bill Popper is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Popper. Janie Popper is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Popper. Last of all, Admiral Drake the one who sent Captain Cook to Mr. Popper.
Mr. Popper and his family live in Stillwater. When he and his Penguins were famous Mr. Popper traveled all around the country. He traveled to a lot of big cities. One of the cities he went to was Milwaukee. Mr. Popper only had time to act in the big cities.
Overall I recommend this book to people who like Penguins and hard times. When Mr. Popper leaves it is both a happy and sad time. I really liked this book because Penguins are great fun.