Lovable Lyle

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
Lovable Lyle Book Poster Image
Gentle story with a point to make.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Mrs. Hipple bears a prejudice toward crocodiles. Clover Sue Hipple leaves anonymous hate mail graffitti.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that a valuable lesson is presented here about dealing with prejudice.

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What's the story?

Sure, Lyle Crocodile lives with humans in the city. But when he begins to get hate mail, despite a lovable and benign nature, he is dumbstruck. Mrs. Primm finds the culprit, but prejudice is harder to overcome. This is a gentle junior-allegory with a point to make.


Is it any good?

A valuable lesson is presented here about the way to deal with prejudice, however irrational, especially in adults. Clearly, Lyle is the most lovable crocodile in the world, as any kid will tell you. And in this story, perplexed by the hate mail, he tries even harder to be sweet. Most interesting, it becomes clear that the problem lies with a mother who doesn't want her daughter to play with crocodiles, and says that "nice neighborhoods" don't allow them.

Bernard Waber keeps these complex issues child-friendly, and opens the discussion up for parents of kids who get it, but who aren't yet ready for more overt books about prejudice. Confusing the issue, though, is the fact that it is perfectly reasonable for a good mother to prevent her child from playing with a crocodile. Also, Waber again (as in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile) resorts to the plot device of a melodramatic rescue to resolve the problem -- not a practical example to follow.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Mrs. Hipple's worries about Lyle. How can she not like him if she doesn't know him? Why does Clover put mean notes under his door? Who taught her not to like Lyle? What should you do -- or not do -- if you think you don't like someone (or if you think someone doesn't like you)?

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