A warm-hearted and comic children's chapter book about a house painter and his troupe of trained penguins is the Orlando Sentinel's pick for its 2007 One Book One Community literacy campaign.
Mr. Popper's Penguins will anchor the Sentinel's six-week community reading program, which kicks off in January.
This 1938 book by Richard and Florence Atwater has charmed generations of young readers with its endearing tale of mild-mannered Mr. Popper, and the troubles that arise when he unexpectedly receives a penguin as a gift.
Mr. Popper's fascination with reading and travel, and the antics of his growing family of exotic birds also make the book popular with elementary and middle-school teachers, because it provides a jumping-off point for lessons and activities in science, language arts and history.
Sentinel spokeswoman Cindy Williams says the newspaper wanted to return to the classics after last year's contemporary selection, Esperanza Rising. The challenge was to find a book that would be easy for budding readers but also would interest older students.
The adventures that face Mr. and Mrs. Popper and their two children as they figure out how to feed and care for 12 emperor penguins give the book wide appeal, she says.
"It's just fun," Williams says. "Here are these kids that get to have penguins as pets. It's just like every kid's fantasy."
One Book One Community, which is heading into its sixth year, encourages Central Florida children -- and the adults in their lives -- to read the same book. It was launched in 2002 as part of the Sentinel's Reading by Nine literacy initiative, which aims to have all area schoolchildren reading at grade level by age 9, when students must make the switch from learning to read, to reading to learn...
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Hats off to the Orlando Sentinel for picking this oldie but goodie.