Mr. Popper's Penguins

Book review by Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
Mr. Popper's Penguins Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 6+

1939 Newbery Honor book is both tender and funny.

Parents say

age 6+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 7+

Based on 9 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 6+

Was a captivating read a loud for my kids

My 7 year old loved this book. The chapters where short and perfect to hold his attention. It gave us lots of talking points. How the time frame of when the book was written is different from today. How family’s are different now, how clothes where different, how accessing knowledge was different (in the book no one knew about penguins vs every one knows today). It didn’t have any questionable mortality issues. However if you view Traditional female/male gender roles an issue you might want to talk to your kids about that too. There’s lots of comments about Mrs potter being a tidy house keeper or her only concern being cleaning. However there were lots of funny parts and written really well for children to understand.

This title has:

Educational value
age 6+

Mr. Popper: neglectful father and husband

Originally written in 1938, the family values are a hundred years out of date. There are many reviews on Goodreads that go over this problem, as well as talk about the issue of him introducing penguins to the arctic (since nobody was thinking about this in the old days, invasive species are a massive problem now). I've only read the first two chapters, then skipped to the end. Here's what I found: -Mrs. Popper laments that since Mr. Popper is off work for the winter, there won't be enough money to feed the family ("beans every night," "would there really be enough beans to last?"), but Mr. Popper "was not worried." -Mrs. Popper says to him, "It will be very nice to have you at home for a vacation, of course, but it is a little hard to sweep with a man sitting around reading all day." -When she is talking when he wants to turn on the radio, he "command[s]" her to "Sh!" That's enough for me to lose interest in reading this to my impressionable kids. -In the final chapter he leaves for "a year or two" to explore, and his wife says, "I'll miss you very much, my dear. But we have money to live on for a few years. And in winter it will be much easier to keep the house tidy without a man sitting around all day." His kids say only, "Good-by and good luck!" and he says nothing back, just waves and heads out of sight. Good riddance, looks like they're better off without him.

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