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.