A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the ironic delivery of this preposterous story gives it a special charm, while the artwork, with its scratchy line work and humorous imagery, might have used Crictor's clever tongue as a brush.
Is It Any Good?
Much of the pleasure of this book has to do with composure. Crictor's cool, as though it is standard procedure for a snake to be posted to a French village from Africa. And Madame Bodot is, for the most part (after some mild flapping when she opens the package Crictor comes in) unflappably self-possessed as she introduces the boa into her daily routine. Aplomb -- even the word sounds French.
Tomi Ungerer's artwork has that beguiling and otherworldly pen-and-ink charm reminiscent of Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey. It is a world of creaky, economical lines, slightly off true, just like how you wanted your grandmother's house to be. And you can't help but grin that it is a snake that lies behind the learning of those letters and numbers, a snake on the page being worth any number in the grass.
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