cover image Verdi


Janell Cannon / Author Harcourt Children's Books $17 (56p) ISB

Cannon (Stellaluna) is on a roll, her gift for creating memorable characters and scenes on glorious display in this tale of a feisty python hatchling. Vowing never to turn ""lazy, boring, or green"" like the older pythons, Verdi zips through the jungle, launching himself from tree branches in an attempt to outpace the inevitable and keep his bright yellow skin and sporty stripes. His elders fear Verdi's recklessness will be his undoing (""At this rate, he'll be lucky to make it to his first molt,"" bemoans one) and they watch his antics with alarm--and with a drop of nostalgia for their own glory days. Adulthood eventually catches up with the young hothead, of course, but in a resolution that is both wise and funny, Verdi comes to terms with maturity while maintaining his zest for life (""I may be big and very green, but I'm still me!""). Cannon's finely tempered prose is as exquisite as her luminous artwork. Here, each jewellike vista is marked by careful attention to detail and brilliant use of color--Verdi's jungle world is a symphony of green, from the delicate shade of a newly unfurled fern frond to richer tones of emerald and pine. Sharply focused foreground objects fade into slightly hazy backdrops, giving the acrylic-and-colored-pencil illustrations an almost three-dimensional depth. As a bonus, the book concludes with a graceful two-page note on snakes. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)