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by Henrik Hovland & illustrated by Torill Kove & translated by Don Bennett

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5399-8
Publisher: Eerdmans

John Jensen lives a perfectly ordinary, one would even say dull, life. So why does he "feel different"?

From the morning, when he munches on extra-fiber super-crunch cereal and brushes his teeth, to "when he's sitting in the tax office working on cases" to his evening commute back home, he feels different. Maybe it's the tail? Children will be all over the disconnect between text and images, because this Caspar Milquetoast of a protagonist is a crocodile living in a world (mostly) otherwise populated by humans. Even funnier than this is the obvious lack of interest everyone around him shows him, despite his intense self-consciousness (the man sitting next to him on the bus is actually sleeping). Nevertheless, John Jensen decides to try hiding his tail under his shirts to avoid notice. But of course, "[w]ith your tail around your middle, you feel clumsy and it's easy to lose your balance," causing him to fall and attracting a lot of attention. The bruised saurian takes himself to the emergency room, where he is treated by… an elephant. A quick pep talk from Dr. Field makes John Jensen realize all the advantages of having a tail, and he celebrates Norway's Constitution Day happily, just one among the throng. Kove's childlike cartoons and their muted palette suit Hovland's daffy fable to a T, matching its deadpan tone with bland innocence.

In between giggles, children will find much to think about. (Picture book. 5-9)