Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Mr. Popper is a house painter, but he’s fascinated with arctic and antarctic exploration. He knows all about all the explorers. He’s read about them all. He knows which explorer did what. He is so fascinated with the colder poles of the Earth that he wrote to one of his favorite explorers. This explorer sent him a package. This package was strange and poked with air holes.
When Mr. Popper opened it, he discovered a penguin, which he enjoyed very much. Mr. Popper and his family decided to call the penguin Captain Cook. They cared for him as best they could, but Captain Cook soon got lonely. Mr. Popper wrote to a zoo about his penguin and they told him they couldn’t do anything with their penguin either so they sent their penguin on to Mr. Popper, maybe the birds were just lonely.
The penguin arrived and it was a girl penguin, which the family called Greta. The two birds hit it off and were soon laying eggs, a lot of them, about ten actually, which was all highly unusual for penguins who generally do one or two eggs.
The house was soon full of penguins and the family was short on money so Mr. Popper decided to train the penguins to do an act, which brought the family some money and a bit of fame, but ultimately, Mr. Popper has to decide where the penguins would be most happy.
What I liked
This story is quite whimsical. I know having a penguin for a pet isn’t out of the question, but it’s just not that common. A penguin would be a pretty interesting pet. I don’t know that I could take having twelve of them though. They’d constantly be into things. They’d always be hogging the bathroom and eating your gold-fish.
This was a story jointly written by husband and wife. The husband started the book, but was unable to finish, so Florence, his wife, took on the project and carried it to completion. That’s really nice that they could do something like this together. If you begin to think of all the children who have been fascinated and entertained by this book over the years, that’s really saying something.
What I didn’t like
Some parts of this story are dubious as far as factual realities. The glaring thing for me is penguins in the north pole. Spoiler here–Mr. Popper let’s his penguins go to the north pole because his explorer friend wants to establish a colony of penguins there. Penguins don’t live in the north pole. Penguins live in the south pole and in other various islands, but they do not live in the north pole. The north pole doesn’t even have actual land. It’s a bunch of ice. There are polar bears there, which would munch on penguins quite happily, not that orcas don’t eat penguins as it is, because they do, but polar bears would pick penguins off pretty quickly I would think.
As far as poles of the Earth go, the south pole is the more hospitable pole to penguins, and people for that matter.
I don’t know what I would do if I got a penguin in the mail.
Would you have a penguin as a pet?
Would you visit the south pole?