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Archive for September, 2011

Module 2: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins[Paperback]

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Atwater, R. and F. ( 2009). Mr. Poppers penguins. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company. (Original work published in 1938)


Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a charming tale of a house painter who is fascinated by the polar regions. He writes to a great explorer, Admiral Drake, and in return Admiral Drake sends him a penguin he names Captain Cook. Captain Cook becomes lonely so they adopt Greta from an aquarium who is also lonely.

The penguins are low happy and have babies. Mr. Popper goes to great lengths remodeling his house to make them comfortable, but it is expensive and Mrs. Popper thinks the house is now very untidy. For the needed money, Mr. Popper decides to teach them to perform shows. The whole family begins traveling with the performing penguins.

When Mr. Poppers and the penguins accidentally wind up in jail, Admiral Drake comes to the rescue. He also wants to take the penguin to the North Pole to start a new penguin colony. Meanwhile a man from Hollywood wants the penguins to star in movies. Mr. Poppers decides that the North Pole is the best place for the penguins. Admiral Drake invites Mr. Poppers to escort the penguins on the journey to the arctic and Mrs. Popper approves.

My Impression

This is a charming book that can be enjoyed equally by boys and girls. The storyline flows smoothly and has not lost it’s believability even though it was written so long ago. Mr. Poppers is a character who is passionate about his hobby and that invites children to dream and imagine about their interests. The adorable drawings throughout the text really add to the visualization and humor of the story.


When Mr. Popper receives his first penguin as a gift from the infamous Admiral Drake, his life is changed dramatically. Soon his penguin family grows and Mr. Popper goes to great lengths to make them comfortable, from making an ice rink of his floors, to digging a swimming hole in his basement. However, when these home improvement projects become costly, Mr. Popper takes his penguins on the road to perform. This leads to many humorous adventures on trains, in taxis, and in fancy hotels–all places unaccustomed to serving penguins. The delightful illustrations make the story even more entertaining. Category: Award Books; Humor; Read Aloud. Grade Level: Intermediate (4th-6th grade). 1938, Little Brown & Co.. Ages 9 to 12.

Jennifer. (1938).  [Review of the book Mr. Poppers penguins, by R. and F. Atwater]. Bookhive. Retrieved from http://www.bookhive.org/

Richard and Florence Atwater’s book is a comical story about a family and their adventures with a penguin named Captain Cook. Mr. Popper, who is a house painter, writes a letter to Admiral Drake. Admiral Drake sends Mr. Popper a penguin. After living with the Popper family for a while, Captain Cook becomes sick and lonely. Luckily, the zoo has a penguin that is sick and lonely too. Captain Cook and his new female companion, Greta, fall in love and are no longer lonely. After a brief period of time, the penguins have babies and the Popper’s have a house full of penguins. When it becomes difficult for Mr. Popper to feed all of the penguins, he decides to put the penguins on stage to perform. After the penguins have been performing for a few weeks, Mr. Popper leads them onto the wrong stage, which lands them all in jail. Admiral Drake returns and makes an offer to the Poppers concerning the penguins. Mr. Popper hates to see the penguins leave but realizes he cannot handle them anymore. The penguins return with Admiral Drake to the North Pole. Atwater takes readers on a wild adventure with Mr. Popper and his penguins, but included in the text are educational facts about penguins–such as how they mate, what they eat and the habitats they are used to living in. Each chapter contains a few black and white illustrations that give the reader just enough images to visualize the story. The Atwaters and Lawson leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. This is a great story to read to third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. 1988, Little Brown, $16.95. Ages 8 to 12.

Scott, R. (1988).  [Review of the book Mr. Poppers penguins, by R. and F. Atwater]. Children’s Literature. Retrieved from http://www.childrenslit.com/

Uses in the Library

There are so many funny scenes described in this book. I would encourage the children to read this book during the winter when they are already excited about snow and ice. Then I would ask them to draw out or recreate their favorite scenes from the book. These creations along with the book would make a great display to decorate the library in January and February.



Module 2: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

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Blume, Judy. ( 2007). Tales of a fourth grade nothing. New York, NY: Puffin Books. (Original work published in 1972)


Peter was overjoyed when he won a pet turtle at a friend’s birthday party. Peter has a very energetic little brother called Fudge. Keeping Fudge away from his pet turtle  is just one of many problems Peter faces in his life with Fudge. Peter struggles through a variety of hilarious situations with Fudge; including watching him at the park, keeping him away from his school projects, and shopping for new shoes.

Somehow Fudge always seems to come out ahead of Peter and the perceived injustice drives Peter crazy. Through a strange series of events Fudge even stars in a TV commercial. Peter’s trouble with Fudge hits all time high when Fudge eats his pet turtle. However, this cloud has a silver lining when Peter’s parents give him his very own puppy to replace the lost turtle.

My Impression

Amazingly, I have not read many books by Judy Blume, but I knew her work has a very good reputation. Another reason I chose this book because my 9 year enjoyed it. I was not disappointed! The characters in this book are so believable and honest. Peter thinks and talks like so many children I know. Children can easily identify with Peter. For the most part, Peter remains a good sport despite all the stress Fudge brings to his life. This book helps children see the humor in everyday life and provides a good example of a patient older sibling. I would recommend this book to children in 2nd through 5th grade.


A must. Nine-year-old Peter describes episodes in the life of his little brother, Fudge (2 1/2 / 3), which would count high as extenuating circumstances for a fratricide. There’s the refusal to eat, the chaotic birthday party, playing up on a shopping trip and in the cinema — and wait till you hear what he does to Peter’s pet turtle. Lots of comedy mixed with pathos as Fudge corners parental attention. Deceptively simple and easy to read, TV sit-com transposed to a book; sings are that, when kids are introduced to Judy Blume, she’s as popular here as in the US. 9-13. Category: Junior/Middle. . …., Piccolo, 95p. Ages 8 to 10.

Bowles, S. (1981, May). [Review of the book Tales of a fourth grade nothing, by Judy Blume].  Books for Keeps Vol. 8.  Retrieved from http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/

Nine-year-old Peter Warren Hatcher has resigned himself to losing the battle of sibling rivalry; his two-and-a-half-year-old brother Fudge manages to get all the attention — upstaging Peter in front of his father’s business associates, ruining the poster he has made for a school project, getting lost at the movies and (the unkindest cut of all) swallowing his pet turtle. Fudge’s antics are standard toddler attention-getters (and his selection as star of a TV commercial considerably overrates his potential as an entertainer), but Peter’s jaundiced observations exploit their risibility to the fullest. Yet the absence of any palpable jealousy or anger in Peter’s reportage causes it to degenerate into a series of momentarily amusing anecdotes, and, if not exactly a nothing, Peter is considerably less than might have been expected from the author of Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (1971).

Kirkus. (1972, March 1). [Review of the book Tales of a fourth grade nothing, by Judy Blume].  Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/

Uses in the Library

It would be fun to set a goal for all of the 4th graders to read this book. If they all read the book, reward them with a class pet such as a tiny turtle or maybe a fish. Let the students vote on the name of it and make it a library helper responsibility to feed it when their class is in the library.

Module 1: Rainbow Fish

                          Rainbow Fish

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Pfister, M. (1992). Rainbow fish. New York: North-South Pole Books Inc.


Rainbow Fish is special and he knows it. He has special shiny scales and refuses to play with the other fish. One day a little blue fish asked to have one of the shiny scales. Rainbow Fish rudely said no and they none of the other fish would even acknowledge him anymore.

Rainbow Fish was very lonely and talked to an octopus about his trouble. The octopus advised him to give away his shiny scales to the other fish and then he would be happy. At first this was difficult. He gave the little blue fish just one and realized how good it made him feel to give it away. Soon he had given away all but one scale. The other fish were jubilant about his generosity and accepted him as a friend and playmate. He was happy.

My Impression

This is a great picture book story about friendship and vanity. Rainbow Fish learns a lesson the hard way about being to proud and selfish. The wise octopus has the role of a parent or trusted advisor. The sparkly scales will catch and hold the attention of even the littlest library visitors.


This board book presents a bare-bones version of the original picture book story: the vain, lonely Rainbow Fish relinquishes his pride and gives away almost all his special, shiny scales to gain friends. About half the original watercolor paintings appear here, reduced in size and cropped to fit the more compact format. Children too young to sit through the original story will enjoy this version, complete with those irresistible, iridescent fish scales. Category: For the Young. 1996, North-South, $9.95. Ages 1-3.

Phelan, C. (1996, March 15).  [Review of the book Rainbow fish, by M. Pfister]. Booklist 92(14). Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

A beautiful fish swims proudly through the sea. Its shiny scales are the envy of all. When he realizes how lonely he is, he decides to share some of his precious scales. This award-winning book has been simplified and made accessible to the very youngest in a board book format. 1996 (orig. 1992), North-South, $9.95. Ages 3 up.

Courtot, M. (1996).  [Review of the book Rainbow fish, by M. Pfister]. Children’s Literature. Retrieved from http://www.childrenslit.com/

Uses in the Library

Rainbow Fish seems like a book begging to be read aloud to PreK through second grade students. I would like to read this book alone during a storytime and leave plenty of time to discuss sharing and friendship with the children. I would prepare a list of open-ended questions. Then place the children in a circle and give them each an opportunity to answer questions like; what does it means to be proud versus friendly? selfish versus generous? and what makes us happy?

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