Grade Level Equivalent:
Guided Reading Level:
Classics, Comedy and Humor
Leadership and Responsibility
Mr. Popper painted and papered houses in the pretty little city of Stillwater. To look at him with his vacant expression and paint-spattered clothes and hair, one would never imagine that he would one day be the most famous person in Stillwater.
Once the house-painting season is over, Mr. Popper settles in for the winter to read his travel books. He dreams of going to Antarctica one day; in fact, he never tires of reading about the South Pole. But one day the South Pole comes to him, in the form of a penguin in a package sent from the Antarctic explorer Admiral Drake. The penguin, dubbed Captain Cook after the "gook" sound he makes, lives with the Popper family, puts a strain on their modest means, and creates quite a stir in little Stillwater. Mr. Popper and his penguin are photographed together during a stroll around town, and this sparks the interest of the national press.
Soon, Captain Cook has a companion. A penguin named Greta arrives by mail, and to keep them happy, Mr. Popper has a large freezing plant installed in his cellar, where Greta begins laying eggs, and two penguins turn into eight. What will Popper do with all these penguins? Well, teach them to perform, of course! And before long, they're a traveling act: the Popper Performing Penguins.
Mr. Popper's Penguins was first published in 1938. Author Richard Atwater, a newspaper columnist and one-time classics instructor, began writing the novel until serious illness forced him to stop. His wife, Florence, finished the story. Together they have created a whimsical tale that has a serious, conservationist ending, as Mr. Popper realizes the penguins must be returned to their natural habitat. Award-winning illustrator Robert Lawson provides the elegant, pen-and-ink illustrations.
A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations.
Praise for Mr. Popper's Penguins
"Here is a book to read aloud in groups of all ages. There is not an extra or misplaced word in the whole story...more fun than 25 movies" — The Horn Book
Newbery Honor Book