John Jensen Feels Different

Henrik Hovland, Author, Torill Kove, Illustrator
Henrik Hovland, trans. from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, illus. by Torill Kove. Eerdmans, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5399-8
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 12/01/2011
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John Jensen is a well-dressed, well-mannered crocodile living a civilized life in the human world, and he worries about it constantly: “He feels he’s different when he takes the bus to work. John Jensen feels the other passengers are looking at him.” As Kove makes clear, though, the problem is largely in his head; the other passengers are oblivious to him. When John Jensen trips and falls after binding up his bulky tail in a futile attempt to conceal it, he meets Dr. Field, whose huge ears and long trunk mean he knows a thing or two about being different. Given a new perspective, John Jensen realizes that his tail—and his differentness in general—are all a question of attitude: “Tails are great for tying bows to,” he says. “Exactly,” says Dr. Field. “Anyone who wears a bow is not afraid of being different.” Hovland and Kove successfully negotiate the tricky task of using deadpan humor (like the image of John Jensen in his bathroom swathed in a sarong, brushing his numerous teeth) to teach an earnest moral lesson. Ages 5–9. (Feb.)
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