Saturday, May 7, 2016

Nostalgia Read: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins
Author: Richard & Florence Atwater

Mr. Popper's Penguins was originally published in 1939. It has been a children's classic ever since then and has never been out of print. I was delighted with the story of Mr. Popper in the 70's when I was in grade school....and enjoyed re-reading it as an adult.

Mr. Popper is a house painter, but he dreams of far off lands and adventure, especially the south pole. In fact, he wrote a letter to Admiral Drake, an explorer on a polar adventure.  Mr. Popper tunes in to the explorer's weekly radio broadcast to hear about the polar trip.  He is shocked when in addition to the "Hello Mama! Hello Papa'' broadcast from the pole, that Admiral Drake adds "Hello, Mr. Popper!''  Drake sends Mr. Popper a surprise in the post -- a penguin all the way from the south pole! Add a second penguin to the first....and then a load of baby penguins.....and you get pandemonium. And one of the sweetest, most fun children's stories ever!

Richard Atwater was a journalist in Chicago. He was in the middle of writing Mr. Popper's Penguins when he had a stroke in 1934. His wife, Florence, finished the book because her husband was too ill to continue. The book won the 1939 Newbery Honor Award. The inspiration to write the story came from a documentary about the polar expedition of Admiral Byrd that Mr. Atwater saw with his family in 1932.

The book is illustrated by Robert Lawson, who illustrated more than 40 children's books by other authors, and 17 of his own, including Mr. Revere and I. He was the only author to receive both the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature.

All in all, a great children's book, but you must be able to suspend reality and just enjoy the story. :) In reality, a house painter could not have a penguin living in his modified refrigerator, and 12 penguins would make a lot of penguin poo all over everything. lol. Just forget about all that.....and go along for the ride. :) Delightful from start to finish. :)

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