Lyle at the Office

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Lyle at the Office Book Poster Image
Complex ideas mixed with warmth and wit.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Mr. Bigg fires Mr. Primm, but regrets it afterward.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that fans of the series will enjoy the story and like seeing Mr. Primm's work, but the art has completely lost the bold lines that characterized the earlier books.

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What's the story?

Lyle goes to work with Mr. Primm, and of course charms everyone at the office. But when Mr. Primm's boss, Mr. Bigg, insists on using Lyle in an advertisement, Mr. Primm quits. As always, Waber tackles surprisingly complex ideas with warmth and wit.

 

Is it any good?

Mr. Primm provides here a sterling example of putting family first and standing up for one's beliefs -- quietly and calmly, but also firmly and without hesitation. "Lyle is a very private crocodile," he says, and that's the end of the discussion. Of course some young children may be confused by the issue. Wouldn't it be cool to be on a cereal box or in a commercial? Waber never explains why it's a problem, but adults reading this book with their children can open that discussion themselves.

As the decades have gone by, Waber's art has changed considerably. The first book, The House on East 88th Street, published in 1962, was notable for its bold, black lines and its simplicity, which together conveyed a childlike quality that adults and children alike recognized. Over the years his art has become more refined, colorful, detailed, and sophisticated -- it's still very good, but it's lost that distinctive innocence. Nonetheless, Lyle still delights and entertains, while exemplifying the virtues of friendship, helpfulness, and devotion to family that have been the hallmark of the series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about standing up for one's beliefs and the rewards -- and possible drawbacks -- of sticking to your principles. Do you speak your mind even if you know others will disagree with -- or disapprove of -- you?

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