Funny, Funny Lyle

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
Funny, Funny Lyle Book Poster Image
Explores motherhood through a child's eyes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

Lyle deals with his mom's arrest, Mrs. Primm's pregnancy, and being brave in case there's a burglar.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bernard Waber pushes his well-known crocodile into new explorations of real-life issues in a gentle and entertaining way. The pictures are still amusing but lack the expressiveness of illustrations from earlier entries in the series.

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What's the story?

Lyle the crocodile is happy to have his mom at home and spreading joy throughout the neighborhood. But Lyle learns that even mothers can make mistakes when she is arrested. Meanwhile, surrogate mom, Mrs. Primm, is pregnant. The addition of Lyle's mom to the series takes a surprising but interesting turn.


Is it any good?

Written more than a decade after the previous book in the Lyle series, this book reflects changing times -- but the warmth of the series hasn't changed. Waber once again makes it look easy to address complicated ideas in a picture-book format. His cartoony line drawings are more colorful than ever and filled with detail, like the pictures in the original Babar book. And, as in the Babar series, life continues to have its ups and downs, but each new event leads to new opportunity.

The author also introduces some moral complexity. Though he practices defending the house from burglars, Lyle must deal with seeing his mother's arrest for theft, although it is clearly cultural naiveté that causes her to commit the crime. She pays her dues in a way that integrates her into society, but at the cost of losing time spent with Lyle. This strand of the story can lead to some interesting parent-child discussions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Lyle handles his worries and the challenging situations he faces. Do you think he handles these things with maturity? How do you think you'd react in similar situations?

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