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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.



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