New kid Rory hasn’t found a school club he wants to join, so he starts his own, for kids who share one of his interests: the Reptile Club.
Lots of kids like animals—and he’s certain lots of kids like reptiles—so he has high hopes, making posters and bringing in his plastic reptiles and lizard-shaped cookies. Here, what has so far seemed like a fairly run-of-the-mill school story takes a literally wild and fantastical turn when the first participants arrive: not fellow reptile lovers but a crocodile, a snake, and a lizard. The animals introduce themselves and offer some interesting facts. The crocodile tells Rory he sweats through his mouth, for example. When the other students see how much fun the interspecies group is having, “they couldn’t wait to join,” and Rory’s goal is achieved. Rory is a red-haired white child; the classroom is a multicultural group in which boys and girls alike participate in the Prancing Unicorn Club as well as the Extra Math Homework Club. Ellis’ digital artwork replicates a scratchy, penciled look, which suits the energetic, imaginative story. As winter approaches, the reptiles must leave, imparting one last animal fact: “Reptiles can’t tolerate the cold.” Delightfully, this does not spell the end of Rory’s friendships.
This testament to imagination, confidence, and entrepreneurship offers refreshing takes on learning about animals and how to make friends. (Picture book. 5-7)