Mr. Popper's Penguins

by Richard Atwater

Hardcover, 1988



Local notes

Fic Atw





Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (1988), Edition: 50 Anv, 139 pages


The unexpected delivery of a large crate containing an Antarctic penguin changes the life and fortunes of Mr. Popper, a house painter obsessed by dreams of the Polar regions.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

139 p.; 6.75 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member bermudaonion
Mr. Popper is a housepainter who dreams of travel and loves to read books about Antarctica. He writes a fan letter to a famous explorer, Admiral Drake, who in return ships him his very own penguin. Mr. Popper names the penguin Captain Cook and makes accommodations (like drilling air holes in his
Show More
refrigerator) so he can live with them. Captain Cook seems to thrive at first, but later becomes lonely, so Admiral Drake sends Greta to keep him company. Captain Cook and Greta have ten babies and the twelve penguins are literally about to eat the Poppers out of house and home.

Mr. Popper decides to train the penguins to perform and the show is a huge success. They are invited to tour the country for $5000 a week. Things go great until they get to New York and Mr. Popper and his penguins show up at the wrong theater. They end up in jail and Admiral Drake bails them out. He asks Mr. Popper to allow him to take the penguins to live in the Arctic so the explorers there won’t be lonely. At the same time, a man from Hollywood offers to make stars out of the penguins and make the Poppers wealthy. Mr. Popper must decide what is best for the future of his family and his penguins.

When I saw that Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater was being released as an audio book I was really excited because this was one of my favorite books as a child. This book lasts about 2 hours and is read by Nick Sullivan. He does a marvelous job – using different voices and sound affects. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this childhood favorite – this classic book stands the test of time. This audio book is appropriate for the whole family and would be great to listen to on a car trip this summer.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ctpress
[Mr. Popper’s Penguins] by Richard Atwater (1939) 3,5/5

Always good with some silly and funny writing to balance the more serious novels - and [Mr. Popper’s Penquins] surely delivers with an emphasis on “silly”.

Mr. Popper receives quite unexpected several penguins and the family tries their
Show More
best to take care of them - when he decides to train the penguins and take his show on the road Mr. Popper’s penguins becomes a nationwide sensation.

A lively audiobook production with sound effects thrown in.

BTW - the movie adaptation with Jim Carry is funny in its own way but the storyline is very different.
Show Less
LibraryThing member klc400
This is a great and fun chapter book for children to read. There is also a movie and that would be something fun to show after reading the book. The children could then try and pick out the differences between the two.
LibraryThing member faith42love
This book was completely silly, fun and light-hearted. Great for children and adults alike. The reader Nick Sullivan did a fantastic job making each and every character and penguin come to life in the reading. There was music and sound effects that helped with the ambiance as well. An overall great
Show More
audio book experience.
The story on the other hand is a bit dated and some of the penguin information is now found to be misleading. We all know that the male is the one who takes care of the egg and that there are penguins living in other place than the South Pole. If your children read this book we just need to make these things clear to them if they ask. Also, I was quite disappointed that Mr. Popper never stood up for himself and let himself get pushed around by people he didn't even know. Mr. Popper was a very kind man who never wanted to cause harm to anyone. I guess it was a lesson on turning the other cheek, but man I would have yelled at the lady on the street, she was so mean!
Show Less
LibraryThing member jenspirko
Why is this considered a classic? I can only assume it is because people love penguins. Penguins are pretty great -- they are fascinating creatures, very cute and fun to watch, as well as zoologically interesting to learn about. I understand why they are so many children's books and movies about
Show More
penguins. I do not understand why this particular one endures, except that people must hold some misplaced nostalgic affection for it, because it keeps getting (unjustifiably) passed down through the generations. As a librarian, I can happily recommend many better books, including ones about penguins.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Brooke28
This is a book about a family that takes takes in penguins and trains them to perform around the country. Its strength is its great writing. It is excellent blend of great writing with excitement and humor.
LibraryThing member afmteacher
this is a must read for any lover of this aquatic birds. Beginning with the engaging cover art and design, the book readily draws the reader into the quirky life of the Popper family, which only gets more so by the arrival of an Antarctic penguin sent by none other than famous Antarctic explorer
Show More
Admiral Drake himself! As more penguins arrive on the scene, Mr. Popper must use all his creative resources to keep the growing family healthy and happy. Follow the outrageous antics of Mr. Popper and his penguins in this delightful tale. Understandably a Newbery Honor book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Junep
More than 60 years have not dated this wonderfully absurd tale--it still makes kids (and parents) laugh out loud. Poor Mr. Popper isn't exactly unhappy; he just wishes he had seen something of the world before meeting Mrs. Popper and settling down. Most of all, he wishes he had seen the Poles, and
Show More
spends his spare time between house-painting jobs reading all about polar explorations. Admiral Drake, in response to Mr. Popper's fan letter, sends him a penguin; life at 432 Proudfoot Avenue is never the same again. From one penguin living in the icebox, the Popper family grows to include 12 penguins, all of whom must be fed. Thus is born "Popper's Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole." Their adventures while on tour are hilarious, with numerous slapstick moments as the penguins disrupt other acts and invade hotels. Classic chapter-a-night fun. (Ages 5 to 10)
Show Less
LibraryThing member ffox
Clearly dated but that was part of the fun. For me the most enjoyable part of this book is the fact that when the penguins first arrive NOBODY knows what they are. It is a credit to modern technology and multi-modal literacy that most Americans know what Penguins look like. It just served as a
Show More
reminder that no matter how hard teaching can seem to be my students know more now then I did when I was their age. Oh, and the antics of the penguins were quite fun.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lep119
This book is all about a man named Mr. Popper who is a painter. During the winter he read books on polar exploration while Mrs. Popper swept around him. He wrote letters to explorers, and one to Admiral Drake in the Antarctic. Admiral Drake sends him an Antarctic penguin, which he named Captain
Show More
Cook. Mr. Popper, Bill, and Janie Popper were overjoyed however Mrs. Popper was not so pleased! This book is very cute and a fun read for the transitional reader! I loved it and think that my students will enjoy it as well.
Show Less
LibraryThing member cry6546
Mr. Popper's Penguins is a story about a painter named Mr. Popper who has always dreamed of visiting the South Pole. Admiral Drake, a researcher of the South Pole, receives a letter from Mr. Popper and sends him a penguin, Captain Cook. Mr. Popper creates a living environment suitable for a
Show More
penguin. He then receives another penguin, Greta, due to Captain Cook's loneliness and they have babies. Mr. Popper is running low on money so he decides to train the penguins with the help of his family. The Penguins become very successful and are offered a part in a movie and also they go to the North Pole with Mr. Popper to start a new population of penguins.

This is one of the best children's stories that I have read. The pacing was great which would definately keep the children's interest. I would recommend this story.

One activity could be to have the children write about their dreams and then have them write about how they can come true. I would then discuss it with the children. Another activity could be to research penguins. We could find out if they could really live in America and why they are found in the South Pole and not in the North Pole.
Show Less
LibraryThing member elenchus
Representative of a distinct style typical of U.S. children's books from the early to mid 20c: not patronizing, but droll and naturalistic even when treating of frankly fantastic situations like penguins living in a family fridge. Perhaps like Beverly Cleary or the Doctor Doolittle series. Both
Show More
adults and kids play important roles in the story.

W quite liked it, and asked if there was another. Wondered what happened with the penguins once they reached the North Pole. "Don't you hate it when a book ends like that?"
Show Less
LibraryThing member MarjBSN
An old story but still entertaining.
LibraryThing member ogechukwu
This book brings out the inner child in you whilst evry child will enjoy reading it. I especially enjoed the part where the penguins and the seals were in the same theatre and the fact that simple silly things can actually make us happy which was what the penguins act were!
LibraryThing member raboyer
Popper's Penguins

* Read via NetGalley

This book is definitely a solid 4 gnomes out of 5 gnomes because it is memorable and surprisingly entertaining throughout. I read this book a long time ago and thought I should read it again because of the movie that came out based on the book.

Mr. Popper is a
Show More
house painter so he only has money for about half of the year, the other half his family lives on what he makes. Let's just say that the Popper's aren't exactly rich. Mr. Popper looks forward to sitting around the house and his favorite radio show is about the polar explorer Admiral Drake. He loves hearing about the arctic and is very surprised when he receives a present in the mail. This present is a real live penguin.

This is a fun story to read and I laughed at a lot of parts that I had forgot about. One of my favorite parts is that at first the family actually modifies the refrigerator so the penguin can live inside. This is a pretty ingenious thing and makes quite a memorable image. The illustrations in the book also help the story move along and add some great breaks to the book.

Having a penguin of course causes a commotion is town and it's not long before a girl penguin is added to the mix and after a while they end up with twelve penguins. Then it kind of turns into a situation like in that episode of The Simpsons where they can't afford to feed and keep Lisa's horse. The Popper's are a little more creative though and start an act featuring the penguins which soon makes them massively popular and extremely profitable.

There are problems and plenty of penguin shenanigans to overcome but you can really imagine what an entertaining show this would truly be. The ending really shows it's age though and struck me at least a little strange for a children's book, it's probably more fitting for the era in which it was originally written.

Rereading this story made me realize all over again how good a story it is and how it has probably spurred many generations to love penguins. Overall this book is one that stands the test of time and will probably be enjoyed far into the future.
Show Less
LibraryThing member MsLangdon
Part Cb Fantasy
Atawater, R. & Atwater, F. (1938). Mr. Popper’s penguins. New York: Little, Brown Books.

Mr. Popper is a painter, but he loves adventures from the Arctic and Antarctic. He reads books and never misses any programs about these adventures. Then one day, he hears a message from his
Show More
favorite explorer, Admiral Drake, who is sending Mr. Popper a surprise. Safely boxed up and sent straight from the Antarctic, Mr. Popper gets a real penguin. Mr. Popper makes changes in his home to accomodate his new pet. Things start to really change when one more penguin from a local zoo arrives and baby penguins come shortly after that. Mr. Popper is surrounded by penguins, and bills, to keep them safe and healthy.
This imaginative story will capture the attention of young readers. The silly and unpredictable events are sure to keep the pages turning. The illustrations throughout the book add to the humorous situations.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Superdaisy
Maybe it's nostalgia--and the penguins--but I adore this book. I was housesitting for a family whose 20 yo daughter had this in her bedroom, and as soon as I saw it, I plucked it off the shelf and read it in an hour or two. It's as good as it was when I was nine!
LibraryThing member bbellthom
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a 1939 Newbery honor winner. This is a delightful story that tells of Mr. Popper an ordinary house painter in the town of Stillwater who has an interest in anything Arctic. Mr. Poppers sends a letter to the famous explorer Admiral Drake and he sends Mr. Popper a penguin.
Show More
Things go along quite well for a while but then Mr. Popper fears that the penguin is ill. He sends a letter to an Aquarium that also has a penguin that is not faring so well. The Aquarium sends Mr. Popper their penguin and before long the Popper’s have ten additional penguins. The Popper’s having no way to care for all these penguins develop an act to take on the road. After a year on the road Admiral Drake returns and it is decided that the penguins would be happiest in the North Pole. Mr. Popper and Admiral Drake make an expedition to the North Pole to get the penguins settled.

My favorite line in this book comes at the end where Mrs. Popper gives her consent for Mr. Popper being a way with the following words, “I’ll miss you very much, my dear. But we have money to live on for a few years. And in the winter it will be much easier to keep the house clean without a man sitting around all day.”

This book has definitely stood the test of time. My son’s fourth grade class read this book recently and he also enjoyed this book very much. When he finished he asked if we could read it again.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kb143317
Mr. Popper is a humble house painter that lives in Stillwater. Mr. Popper is fascinated by the world, especially the Arctic and the Antarctica. Mr. Popper receives a package from explorer Admiral Drake shortly after writing him a letter. The package contained a penguin from the Antarctica. The new
Show More
member of the Popper family is greeted warmly and is named Captain Cook. But when Captain Cook becomes ill Mr. Popper writes to Dr. Smith, the Curator of the Aquarium in Mammoth City. Dr. Smith explains that possibly Captain Cook is experiencing loneliness and sends Greta to live with the Popper family. Greta and Captain Cook make each other very happy and create their own penguin family of ten. The Popper family trains their twelve penguins to perform in theaters throughout the country.

This book shows to children in a whimsical way the responsibility it takes to take care of a pet. It also shows friendship between owner and pet. My mother, who is a true penguin lover, would get a kick out of this book.

Extension Ideas

1. Pick one of the expeditions mentioned in the book and incorporate it into a history lesson or a geography lesson.

2. Have the children create a penguin out of construction paper. Encourage them to personalize their penguin by drawing or creating items out of construction paper (such as: a necklace, a hair bow, headphones, or an ice cream cone)
Show Less
LibraryThing member cjoymr
Really cute, if improbable, story of what happens to an out-of-work paper-hanger when several penguins come to stay with his family. Read it aloud to your 'Happy Feet' obsessed children.
LibraryThing member lauraejensen
This is the delightfully absurd story of a poor painter who becomes the proud possessor of 12 pranking penguins! He and his family must take care of all of these lovely beasts, and figures out a way to profit. Slapstick, a real howler! Useful for lessons in Geography, climate, the care of penguins.
Show More
Perhaps as a class exercise to write fan letters.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jennyo
This one was fun to read out loud, and my kids adored it.
LibraryThing member technodiabla
I found this book a bit silly, but my kids (5,3,3) though it was hilarious. The familial relationships are very dated as well.
LibraryThing member maeganpollard
This book is about a gentle housepainter and his penguins. Mr. Popper had a hard time supporting himself, his wife and kids, and then to add 12 little penguins made it even harder. He only worked from spring to fall leaving them with very little money for the winter. Mr. popper had an idea to make
Show More
the penguins go perform. They were great on stage. If you want to know all the funny details you'll want to read it for yourself.

I like this book because its funny and will make the kids laugh. It also shows how storng close families can work through anything. I can relate to this because I have a close family and when we all pull together we can make anything work.

In the class, we could act out parts of the story on our own stage. We could also use the clues and descrptions of the story to make props for our stage.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LeslitGS
This book has been a favorite of mine since I was in third grade. [My copy, in fact, belonged to my third grade teacher, but after borrowing it from her for the summer, she had retired and I conveniently adopted it. Sorry, Mrs. Saunders! At least I'm still reading, right?] It follows the story of
Show More
Mr. Popper, a small-town house and room painter who is fascinated by all things Arctic, north or south pole. During the winters, when there is little for one of his profession to do, he spends his time reading up on explorers and creatures of the snowy regions, and this time, he writes a letter to one of said explorers. Unexpectedly, the man replies, sending a 'surprise' to Mr. Popper--a live penguin! He is named Captain Cook. As the story rolls on, Mr. Popper gains a second penguin, Greta, and the two quickly create a family. The rest of the story is about how the Popper family, already living largely on beans, must cope with the expenses and how they decide to do so by training the penguins for a show.
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why I fell in love with the book. It is simple and simply written, published originally in 1938 with illustrations that are only blue, black and red. Even when I first read it, I knew it was silly and impossible, but still a delight to read. Ah, old favorites are sometimes the best favorites. And certainly wonderful to read when you're not feeling so well [as was the case].
Show Less

Other editions

Similar in this library




½ (865 ratings; 3.9)
Page: 0.8088 seconds