Saturday, February 09, 2008

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Atwater, Richard and Florence. 1938. Mr. Popper's Penguins.

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a Newbery Honor book for 1939. It is a completely silly story about a man's obsession with the poles and with penguins. Mr. Popper is a painter and a decorator. He doesn't make much money, but somehow he manages to support Mrs. Popper and his two children. (I think it is because Mrs. Popper is prone to having common sense.) The book opens in late September. The painting/decorating/wallpapering season being at an end apparently, the two are discussing their money issues. It's not a very "exciting" beginning until Mr. Popper remembers that the Drake expedition is going to be broadcasting live on the radio. Mrs. Popper is not really interested in the Arctic or the Antarctic or penguins or famous or infamous explorers. But Mr. Popper, this is what he lives for.

It seems that Mr. Popper wrote such an enthusiastic fan letter to his hero, Mr. Drake, that the man mentions him on the radio and promises to send him a surprise in the mail.

Of course, being a book called Mr. Popper's can pretty safely bet that that something is a PENGUIN.

A few quick changes to the house--turning the ice box into a penguin home for example--the family becomes solely focused on the new pet. They call him Captain Cook.

Never mind that in chapter one and two, Mrs. Popper was saying she hoped they had enough money to buy beans to eat throughout the winter. (With doubt in her voice nonetheless.) And after the penguin's arrival, Mr. Popper notes that he's giving away his last five dollars to the handyman to put air holes and a handle on the icebox. They suddenly, magically have enough to buy loads and loads of canned shrimp and later on fresh fish.

But that might be expecting too much??? Maybe.

Anyway, Captain Cook isn't happy living the bachelor life. He wallows around so much that Mr. Popper pops off another letter in the mail. This time to an aquarium/zoo type place. Then he hears back that they have a woeful girl penguin that they've given up for dead on account of her fierce lonesomeness. They give the penguin to the Poppers.

Of course these two penguins are going to want to have more penguins. And despite the fact that penguins can only lay at most two eggs per year, this penguin pair is going to lay 10 eggs all at once.

Now that there are twelve penguins--and only when there are now twelve penguins--does Mr. Popper begin to consider his wife's concerns that they didn't have enough money for their own family--mom, dad, two kids--let alone twelve antarctic pets. But they decide right then and there that they just need to train these penguins and they'll be rich and happy and live happily ever after.

Anyway, long story short. Very very silly. Very unrealistic. Very over-the-top. But on a positive note, it's quite short and definitely readable. Just don't think Mr. Popper knows his science or his logic.

First sentence: It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work.

Pages: 139.


Maw Books 12:37 PM  

So funny that I should see this book today on your blog. Somebody just recommended this book to me yesterday and I've now put it on my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

Melissa 7:31 PM  

I think that this is one of those that *only* appeal to kids. C's 2nd grade teacher read it to the class, and they loved it.

BTW, you won my little Feb drawing. I sent you an email, but I'm not sure -- did you get it? If not, email me: mmfraf at sbcglobal dot com. :)

Carl V. 7:51 AM  

My second grade teacher read this aloud to us. It has always been a sentimental favorite.

Nan - 10:24 AM  

Hey Becky,
I recently wrote about this, and I felt much more favorable toward it. :<)

Anonymous,  7:57 PM  

umm did you realize that you are super negative in this? the book is funny and exiting and you just think of it logicaly. how about having an imagination.

Anonymous,  11:23 PM  

My 2nd grade teacher read this to us too...she was kind of a nag though. :P

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP