Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Florence Atwater  

Pen Name: Florence Hasseltine Carroll Atwater, Florence Hasseltine Atwater

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Children;

Born: 1889

Died: 1979

-- Florence Atwater on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Atwater attended the University of Chicago and studied French Literature.

Biographical and Professional Information

Florence Atwater was married to the author Richard Atwater. Mr. Atwater originally wrote a form of ''Mr. Popper's Penguins'' to be a fantasy book. It was much enjoyed by his daughters but he set it aside, not happy with it. In 1934, Mr. Atwater suffered a stroke and, though he survived till 1948, he never recovered sufficiently to write again. To help support the family, Florence Atwater wrote a number of articles for the ''New Yorker'' and ''The Atlantic''. Looking for ways to make additional income she went back to Atwater's original manuscript and took it to a couple of publishers. Both rejected it. She reviewed the script and rewrote the beginning and the end, counterbalancing the fantasy with a story line that accentuated practical consequences. This revised version, illustrated by the Robert Lawson, received a much more positive reception from publishers and ''Mr. Popper's Penguins'' was published in 1938 to immediate acclaim. It won a 1939 Newberry Honor and has been in print ever since.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Mr. Popper's Penguins
ISBN: 0316058432

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 1992

A classic of American humor, the adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. "Here is a book to read aloud in groups of all ages. There is not an extra or misplaced word in the whole story."--The Horn Book. Newbery Honor Book.


Mr. Popper's Penguins

  • Newbery Honor Book, American Library Association, 1939
  • Young Reader's Choice Award, Pacific Northwest Library Association, 1941
  • Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
  • New York Public Library's 100 Great Children's Books/100 Years