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After 2020, do you need to enjoy something silly and carefree? Children’s books, especially many written early in the last century provide puzzles to solve with an air of optimism and escapades filled with humor. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is one of them.

Growing up, I had always heard of the book yet had never read it. I guess a story about penguins just didn’t draw my attention, but January in the northern hemisphere is an apt time to read about frigid climates. Antarctica and penguins come to mind…

A 1938 Newbery Honor recipient, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is written in a more narrative style than what we’re used over 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.


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.


1. As I mentioned before, the narrative style might turn off the modern reader. If that happens, they’ve missed out on a great story. Encourage your kids to 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?


I finished the book in one sitting. The vocabulary is easily handled by fourth grade and above, so this makes 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 should also find it amusing.


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