Apr 30, 2012

John Jensen Feels Different

John Jensen Feels Different by Henrik Hovland
Illustrated by Torill Kove
Translated by Don Bartlett
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

     John Jensen feel different. He feels different while he reads the Oslo Times, while he brushes his teeth and flosses, while he takes the bus to work, even while he sits in his tax office working on cases. He thinks it might be his bow tie. "No one else wears a bow tie." So he tries wearing a regular tie, but he still feels like everybody is starting at him. Maybe it's because John Jensen is an crocodile in a city of humans...

     He lays awake at night (reading Camus' The Stranger) and decides he needs to hide his tail. Maybe that will do the trick. But when he ends up with a bruised tail and needs to go to the hospital, John Jensen discovers that he's not the only one that doesn't quite look like the other Oslo citizens, and that there are many advantages to being a crocodile (like using your tail to stop the ball when you play goalie in soccer.

     John Jensen Feels Different is a Norwegian picture book that embraces its "norwegianess."  It immerses you in Oslo and its culture and captivates you with a character who you can't help falling in love with. I mean, he's a croc that reads Camus and wears bow ties! Delightful read aloud that can open up great conversations in the classroom about embracing your differences and loving yourself. Also, if you need a lesson on how to make a bow tie knot, enjoy the end papers. Priceless.

Apr 2, 2012


Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Published by Roaring Brook Press

     How many kinds of green are there?  In her new book Green, Laura Vaccaro will delight you with all the types of green -including the absence of it- that you can find in nature.  There is forest green,  sea green,  lime green, and fern green. Ok, so you might have expected those. But what about "slow green," or "shaded green," or "wacky green?"  And my absolute favorite: never green (illustrated with a huge bright red stop sign).  Each page is meant to be savored, holding a little secret in the form of small paper cutouts that transform into something new as you flip the pages.  It became a fun prediction game among the early readers I shared the book with -they were all trying to guess what the cut out would become as we explored new greens.
     Green is a gorgeous exploration of a single color, a homage to it.  It plays on the expected and unexpected and asks us to pay attention to nature and its wonders.  Great book to share with the youngest readers (and as a coffee table delight at home).