Does your library have a good selection of audiobooks? Ours does, and as my girls age and mature, I know that it will get better and better. Audiobooks are a staple at the House of Hope. We listen to them daily. The girls always have one going during our 1 to 1 1/2 hour daily rest time (unless they accidentally fall asleep before the prescribed 15-20 minutes of lying-down-listening-to-soothing-music-time is up). We usually have one in the van with us for any trips over twenty minutes in length (it’s our answer to the portable DVD player). Although I prefer reading a book over listening to it, listening comes in a close second. As we all know, an expressive reader can turn a good story into a please-just-read-one-more-page story.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is one audiobook we have rediscovered this week. We listened to it for the first time last summer, I think, when we went on a trip. I picked it up again at the library on our last trip there to add a little variety to our Little House saturated rest-times. Mr. Popper’s Penguins has also passed the cool pre-adolescent boy test, too. The girls and I, along with my sister and nephews, recently took a day trip to a water park an hour away from our home. Since my nine and ten year old nephews (the two Es) were along, I gathered Mr. Popper and his captivating penguins up with the beach towels and sunscreen and tossed them into the van. I thought the two Es would find find it amusing, and they did. It is a great mark of approval that the eldest E actually laughed aloud a time or two while listening to this tale.
Most of the audiobooks at our library are from the Recorded Books company, and every one of these we have listened to has been of very high quality. This particular recording of Mr. Popper’s Penguins is read by Paul Hecht. Hecht’s voice provides just the amount of dignity needed to make this outrageous story seem completely believable. The story itself is a must-read that I somehow managed to miss in my own book-obsessed childhood but that I have found every bit as hilarious and delightful as an adult. In short, Mr. and Mrs. Popper and their two children live a very quiet life in Stillwater until Mr. Popper receives a huge package from Admiral Drake, a south pole explorer whom he greatly admires. The package, of course, contains a live penguin, and a wild, zany, and side-splittingly funny time ensues. This Newbery honor book published in 1938 is fun any way you enjoy it–as an audiobook or a good, old-fashioned read-aloud. Highly, highly recommended!