Mr. Popper's Penguins
by Richard and Florence Atwater
Recommended Age: 8+
This Newbery Honor book from 1938 was written by Richard and Florence Atwater. The husband started the story, but the wife completed it when her husband became seriously ill. It is accompanied by the classic illustrations of Robert Lawson, who was himself an award-winning author.
It's a witty story that reminded me a little of E. B. White's The Trumpet of the Swan.
Mr. Popper is a poor housepainter who has never been out of the town of Stillwater in his life, but he has a wife and two kids to support and a business that only runs nine months out of the year. His dream, however, is to be an Arctic or Antarctic explorer, like Admiral Drake, to whom he writes admiring letters.
One day a bit of his dream comes true when he gets a package from Admiral Drake containing a live penguin, who becomes known as Captain Cook. Soon Mr. Popper and his family have a whole family of penguins on their hand, and in order to pay the bills they decide to take their show on the road.
Mr. Popper's Penguins is a funny, heart-warming tale simply and charmingly told. I strongly recommend it!