Lyle is lovable, don't try to resist him. Everyone wants her own Lyle.
But also? In a climate where hate speech and hate crimes are increasing, the book feels way darker than it did before. Poor Lyle, doing everything he can to keep people from fearing him, and none of it does any good to sway people who refuse to believe that an upright-walking, talking, socially responsible crocodile could be human. What's wrong with people?
When I was a child, Dr. Seuss was the name in early readers. He wasn't the only writer, nor always the best, but he was who you thought of first. Now the name is Mo Willems. His books are consistently funny, artistically appealing in their simplicity, and the pigeon kills with every appearance.
I sit here in September, typing with right hand only, because my left hand is resting, reassuringly, on Calder Alexander Eno, who is sitting in the chair pulled up next to mine. I'm doing this, because we are finally getting some rain, which will stop all the humans from hideous allergy attacks and sinus headaches, of which we are heartily sick, both figuratively and literally. Calder is an enormous jellicle cat, more than twenty pounds, long and tall, and he's probably the snuggliest cat I've ever met, but he is frightened of thunder: when it rumbles he growls and goes and hides under Natasha's bed. He has already spent half the day under there, so I'm trying to keep him calm and happy. Such a good cat. I go back to work October 3, so that's two weeks to catch up on one hundred seventy-eight book reviews. I can do this.
Some people can't stand the whole princess thing, others haven't lost it even though they've grown up; I never thought of myself as being afflicted with the desire, but then I really enjoyed a series of books called Castles Ever After which might as well have been commissioned by some sort of Secret Adult Princess Division of Disney. Both the daughters came down with a case when they started preschool, one traditionally (so much Belle merch) the other with an edge (Zombie Princess), and both gave it up in favor of other, more literally kick-ass heroines. These books are perfect for that phase: the swashbuckling and monster-fighting will appeal to nearly all kids, the princesses are a diverse lot, there's a disability addressed as no big deal, and they are funny enough for adults to read repeatedly as they will no doubt be forced to do.
Write on, Shannon Hale, long may you reign as Queen of the Kickass Princess!
By way of contrast to The Magic Nesting Doll, this is a fairy tale set in an unspecified place and time best classified as Middle Ages, European. Despite its setting, it feels contemporary in the lesson it is teaching about how to be a decent, empathetic human being. It's light in tone, rather snarky even, and I enjoyed it quite a bit (I identified with the witch, of course) despite not liking geese at all.
[Yes, I'm trying to catch up on reviews, and I'm still a month behind, so there well be more glutting your feed in the near future. Or I might get to busy to breathe again and fall another month behind. The tension: will she, or won't she? I can't wait to find out.]