Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater //Book Review// I will touch on the structure and plot of this children's book, although I think the most wonderful part of the story involves the touching relationship between Richard and Florence Atwater, the book's authors.
The witty dialogue and alliterative appeal make this story a delight to read aloud to young children who will enjoy the crazy antics of every child's dream and every parent's nightmare - the unexpected delivery of a penguin to the house! The line from the book, "This parcel of penguins really performs!" just rolls off of the reader's tongue while tickling the imagination of young children. Most children are classically full of questions ranging from normal to absurd and this book encourages the children to keep asking those questions. I also love how the partnership of Mr. and Mrs. Popper closely mirrors the relationship of Mr. and Mrs. Atwater, the authors of the book.
This leads me to what I believe to be the really fascinating part of the success of Mr. Popper's Penguins - the authors. Richard Atwater wrote the original manuscript after watching a documentary about an Antarctic expedition in 1932. In 1934, Richard suffered a stroke which left him unable to write or speak. His wife, Florence, submitted Richard's manuscript to two publishers with no success. Florence, then rewrote sections of the manuscript and submitted it again. I find it amazing that the writing is consistent and the reader can not delineate the portions written by Richard from those written by Florence. In 1938, the revised manuscript was published by Little, Brown and Company. Mr. Popper's Penguin's was named a Newbery Honor Book in 1939 and has maintained a beloved spot in children's literature ever since!
I love the story behind the story, especially when it involves the fascinating stories of authors who persevered until their stories were published. The world of books and literature would be at such a loss if authors gave up the first time they were denied publication! Here's to the idea of never giving up!!!
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- ISBN: 0-316-05843-2
- Format: Paperback
- Illustrator: Robert Lawson