It amazes me that Mr Popper’s Penguins was written in 1938. Did you know that? Because I didn’t, until I just recently. And it’s still beloved and read by children today. It boggles my mind.
Strangely enough, I remember reading this book when I was young. It made that much of an impact. My mother blames it for starting my fascination with penguins. Apparently after reading Mr Popper’s Penguins, I constantly insisted on going to the nearest zoo so I could “free them and bring them home to live with us.” While I don’t remember saying that, I have always wanted a penguin as a pet, as I’m sure almost everyone does after reading this book. I mean, they strut! And pick up the things around your house that you can’t reach. And are generally awesome. How could you not want a penguin as a pet??
A refresher for those who haven’t read this in a while:
Mr. Popper is a house painter. He works for only a couple months of the year doing the painting gig and then sits at home for the rest of the year reading about the Poles. Mr. Popper is obsessed with the Poles, especially when it comes to penguins. After writing a letter to Admiral Drake, who is currently on a South Pole expedition, Drake sends Mr. Popper a rather large crate.
I’m sure you’ve guessed what’s inside the crate. That’s right – it’s a penguin!
Chaos ensues, another penguin joins the family, the two penguins hit it off and make more penguins and there’s more chaos. It’s a fun time all-around.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when I re-read this book last week. It’s still great! I learned facts about penguins that I’d forgotten – did you know penguins are very curious? And that they sleep on rocks or pebbles? What about that they can go without food for up to a month? – but I didn’t realize I was ‘learning’ at the time. (Trickery!) It just flowed naturally with the narration.
I love the illustrations, especially of Captain Cook (the penguin) and the one where Mr. Popper and Captain Cook are strutting down the street during their walk. These are the original illustrations from 1938 and they’ve stood the test of time.
I also love how this family handles change. A penguin shows up in a crate and it’s like, “Oh, look, a penguin.” Not even a ripple of opposition from this family. They’re very adaptable. Just a shrug and a wave and they’re on to something else. You don’t see that anymore in books.
If you’ve never read Mr. Popper’s Penguins, you have missed a landmark in children’s literature. This book led generations of children to discover a love for penguins. And that love doesn’t go away. I can still watch penguins at the zoo for hours and I still want one for a pet. (I’ve decided penguins must be very easy to ship since it was done twice in this book and that was back in the ’30s. So there’s no reason I can’t have a penguin as a pet if they’re so easy to send.)
Did you read Mr Popper’s Penguins? What do you remember/love about it? Let me know in the comments section!
Hey! Guess what I found out when I goggled the title for more info?
It’s going to be a movie! With Jim Carrey! It’s currently filming and will be out next year. *Excitement!*