Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938), by Richard and Florence Atwater

Atwater-PenguinsHeralded as a classic, this book fails to impress. I remember hearing about it, but cannot remember reading it, as a child. Mr. Pine’s Purple House (by Leonard Kessler, 1965), Kessler-Pinenow there was a great picture book! I have always held the two in my mind together, but was greatly disappointed to discover that Mr. Popper’s Penguins was much longer, attempting novel status rather than remaining a delightful children’s book. It might have been marvellous when written, but pales beside the much more interestingly structured and presented texts that exist today for the same young age group.  The plot is quaint, but the writing style so simple as to be condescending.  It is too long a book to present such a simple story. I suspect that young readers today would not be able to engage with it, as the age group for whom the language and story are most appropriate are more used to short chapter books, with far greater interest value, than novellas of this length.


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