I decided a while back that I was going to read all of the Newberys, and that I would also choose one honor book to read each decade. For the 30’s I chose Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It’s a well-known book, that I hadn’t read, and it’s not very long. It was a very entertaining read, and I enjoyed it very much.
One thing blew my mind, though. NO ONE, in the novel except for Mr. Popper and a few others knew what a penguin was. Every time Mr. Popper took the penguins out in public, everyone was like, “What are those? Are they pelicans? Are they big parrots?” Nowadays, if you line ten children up and show them a penguin, all ten of them are going to know that it’s a penguin. Maybe people in the 1930’s just really weren’t that aware of the world outside of the U.S. (but come on, wouldn’t there at least be penguins in the zoos?) or maybe there was a National Penguin Awareness Campaign sometime in the 50’s that I’m not aware of. Either way, I think that part of the book might confuse kids today. I think they would wonder why 90% of the characters in this book don’t know what a penguin is.
Anyways, I liked it much better than the actual winner, Thimble Summer, but that usually happens when I read a Newbery honor book. They’re usually better than the winners. I give this one 4 Newbery Pies.
Ps. I didn’t even know there was a Jim Carrey movie, until just now. I’ll have to give it a watch.