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Mr. Popper's Penguins: 04/22/13

cover art

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater was a 1939 Newbery Honor book. Mr. Popper spends the warm months as a decorator — painting and papering rooms. He spends the cold, wet months listening to the radio and following his hobbies — like learning about the exploration of Antarctica.

On of these winters, Mr. Popper receives an unusual gift — a penguin. Mr. Popper, his wife and two kids live in a small urban home. What is he going to do with a penguin? Now the logical answer would be call the zoo. Except — he really, really, really wants a penguin. So he and his family decide to make the best of things.

The first half of the book, then, is how the Poppers adjust to their new penguin. They make a nest in the refrigerator. They teach the penguin how to walk on a lead. They order all sorts of fish.

And that's when things get complicated. The book, is after Mr. Popper's Penguins. More than one penguin. First comes a second penguin — and then the rest is up to mother nature. With so many penguins on hand — Mr Popper decides to see just how much he can train them — with Mrs. Popper's help, of course.

The last third, then, is the Popper Penguins on the road — and their short but lively stage career. Of course, life on the road is difficult and it might end up being more than Mr. Popper can handle.

Although some of the language is outdated, I think with the illustrations and the sheer silliness of having penguins in a home, still has appeal for elementary school aged readers.

Five stars

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