Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Review: Verdi

We're crazy about snakes around here, but this mom and reviewer gets a little tired of non-fiction from time to time. I was thrilled, then, when my son selected Verdi, by Janell Cannon at a recent bookstore trip.

Verdi is a story of a snake--a young python--who doesn't want to grow up. He doesn't want to become big, green, and lazy, like all the adult pythons in the forest. Instead, he likes "the bold stripes that zigzagged down his back" and "his bright yellow skin." He also likes to play and jump into the air and perform dangerous and daring tricks.

The large green adult pythons in the forest know Verdi is going to come to no good. And, they're right. He lands badly after an ill-advised stunt, performed while trying to forget that he is slowly turning green. While splinted to a branch, Verdi finally grows up and begins to find joy and beauty in sitting still and enjoying his surroundings. He's become an "old green."

But, Verdi hasn't forgotten his youth. When two young, yellow pythons happen upon him "one fine morning," Verdi challenges them to a "fancy figure eight." In the end, he learns, "'I may be big and very green, but I'm still me.'"

Janell Cannon's illustrations are beautiful, lush, and nearly photographic. A wonderful picture book for the 4-8-year-old crowd.