Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Our Score

Growing up, I had always heard of the book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, yet had never read it. I guess a story about penguins just didn’t draw my attention, but since my hometown is stuck in the deep freeze right now, Antarctica and penguins came to mind.

A 1938 Newbery Honor recipient, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater, is written in a more narrative style than what we’re used to almost eighty years later. Don’t let that stop you. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, and by the end of the tale, I adored the daddy penguin, Captain Cook, as much as Mr. Popper did.

I finished the book in one sitting. The vocabulary is easily handled by fourth grade and above, so this might make a great family read-aloud for younger readers. The plot probably appeals to the seven to ten-year-old age range rather than those bordering on junior high school. That said, since the story entertained me, preteens will also find it amusing.


1. The book educates readers on the topics of penguins and Antarctica’s history and geography with no hint of an academic lecture.

2. You can’t find a more family-friendly story. With cheerful attitudes, Mr. and Mrs. Popper and their two children work together to help keep innocent animals healthy and happy.


As I mentioned before, the narrative style might turn off the modern reader. If that happens, they’ve missed out on a great story. As I’ve mentioned in previous Vintage Reads (see Rickshaw Girl), let your kids try out new flavors of literature.

Discussion points:

  1. Popper created several items to keep the penguins comfortable. If you had a pet penguin, what might you make to keep them cool or to give them a toy to play with?
  2. This book was written a long time ago. What technology do we use in our everyday lives that Mr. and Mrs. Popper never used because it had probably not been invented yet?
  3. Do you think it was a good idea for the penguins to travel all over the country? Why or why not?
Linda Samaritoni
Linda Samaritoni, writing as Linda Sammaritan, has her feet firmly on the ground and her mind reaching for heaven. Each day is an adventure on her journey with Jesus. After a career teaching middle-graders, Linda loves to write contemporary and historical stories for the same age group. She also loves to jot down metaphors within spiritual ideas. Check out her other blog and author website

One Reply to “Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater”

  1. I LOVED that book, will never forget it. It actually came to mind just yesterday when I thought it would be a great book to read to my homes-chooled grandson in a couple of years.

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