I recently read Mr. Popper’s Penguins with my 8yo and 5yo. This was my second time reading the book, since I had read it to my eldest daughter when she was around that age, too. (It is a part of the Bookshark and Sonlight curriculum for early elementary.) Even though she’d heard it before, my oldest at 12yo, couldn’t resist listening in again, too!
The description on the back of the book reads:
“The lovable Mr. Popper dreams of being an intrepid Antarctic explorer, living life along the penguins alongside his hero, Admiral Drake. So he is shocked one day when the Admiral responds to his fan letter by sending him a package containing a real, live penguin! Soon, this penguin is joined by another, and before long Mr. Popper has an ice rink in the basement and a dozen delightful penguins living in his house. With hardly enough money to feed his family, and an ever-increasing bill for raw fish and canned shrimp, what can the wonderfully imaginative Mr. Popper do but train his penguins and take the show on the road!
While there is an audiobook version (and I am usually all about audiobooks!), I recommend the regular paperback version for this book. It is an easy read with fun alliteration (lots of Ps), the chapters are short, and the illustrations are sweet.
Activities to do after reading this book
Watch the Movie
My family enjoys watching movie versions of books that we have read. Even when, as in this case, the movie hardly resembles the original book! (It is fun to compare the differences afterward.) In the movie, Mr. Popper is “an uptight NYC man (Jim Carrey) stuck taking care of six penguins who have been mistakenly left at his doorstep.” It is set in present day (rather than roughly 100 years ago like the book) and has some mild crude-humor that, I’ll admit, my children loved. (One of the penguins is named Stinky, if that helps clue you in.) They laughed and laughed. It is rated PG. My favorite part is that there was a character that really played up the P alliteration! It is a heartwarming tale (tail!) that emphasizes the importance of family.
I was able to check it out for free from our local library (we love our libraries!) but you can also rent it on Amazon Prime.
Watch a Documentary About Penguins
We watched March of the Penguins (also from our local library). The brief description is, “In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.” It is narrated by Morgan Freeman. My 8yo and 12yo were fine with it, but my 5yo was a little upset over some of the facts of life (a penguin is caught by a seal, an egg freezes.) In those sensitive situations, I felt the documentary was very well done and didn’t show too much or dwell on it, but if your younger children are sensitive, I figured you’d want to know so you can proceed with caution. (My 5yo said she was mainly upset because she knew it was *real* and not just a movie.) It is rated G.
There is a documentary series about penguins on Netflix Streaming called Penguins: Spy in the Huddle. It is also rated G and looks similar to March of the Penguins in content, though we have not yet watched it.
Do a Craft
There are a lot of penguin craft ideas out in Pinterest land, but these are a few of my favorites below (click on the picture to go to the individual website for directions.)
What are some of your favorite ideas to supplement a topic you are learning about or a book you’ve read?
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