Movie Wednesday: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Movie Wednesday: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Divorced real estate entrepreneur Thomas Popper lives a completely different life to that of his late father, who traveled all over the world. But it looks like adventure is in store for Mr. Popper after all, when six penguins arrive one after the other in the mail!

A present from Mr. Popper’s father’s last trip, the penguins turn his son’s life upside down. But will his new friends help Mr. Popper make peace with his family, or would it be kinder to donate them to the zoo and move on with his life?


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In 1938, two American authors, Richard and Florence Atwater, published a children’s book titled Mr. Popper’s Penguins. In 1939 it was named a Newbery Honor Book; and in 2011 it was adapted by Warner Bros into a feature length family film.

Richard Atwater began writing what would become Mr. Popper’s Penguins after watching a documentary with his family about the Antarctic. He suffered a stroke, however, and could no longer continue writing. His wife, Florence, made revisions to his manuscript in order to get it published and the book has gone on to be considered a children’s classic.

The film, starring Jim Carrey, is only loosely based on the book and won a BMI Award for its score.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think adaptations should stick as close to the source material as possible or should they take more creative license? Explain your answer.
  • The penguins are a mix of CGI and real penguins. Can you tell? Would it have worked better if they had been realized in a different way? Why or why not.
  • In the original book, Mr. Popper lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but in the film he lives in New York. Do you think this makes the story more accessible to an international audience?
  • Mr. Popper’s assistant Pippi constantly uses words beginning with “p.” Describe what it might be like to spend a day using lots of words beginning with the first letter of your name.

Additional Resources

20 Facts About Penguins

Penguin Birthday Party

A Quiver of ArrowsLearn language arts with the Mr. Popper’s Penguins Quiver of Arrows!

A Quiver of Arrows is designed for children in the Partnership Writing stage of development (typically, first and second graders who are beginning to read and write). When purchased as a part of the ten issue Quiver product, the individual price drops to $7.90.

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