To my great surprise (read: dismay), Toddler Bookworm has developed a new fascination with snakes, likely fostered as a result of seeing snakes in three venues in the space of a week (aquarium, wildlife refuge, and nature center; fortunately none outside of glass without a trained professional present). I am not discouraging his new-found interest in carnivorous reptiles, but I have been turning to some fictionalized outlets to satisfy him, and also myself. Enter the classic picture book Crictor.
Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a toddler (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1983 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: Crictor by Tomi Ungerer
Copyright date: 1959
Plot in a Sentence (or two): Madame Bodot’s son, who is studying reptiles in Africa, sends her a “peculiar O-shaped box” for her birthday: a boa constrictor! Recovering from her initial shock, she adopts Crictor as her beloved pet whom she takes everywhere, and he later becomes a hero, “loved and respected by the entire village,” after saving her from a burglar.
Why It’s Timeless: The concept of having an exotic pet is so much fun. To see the bespectacled old lady mothering her unusual pet, including feeding him bottles of milk, knitting him sweaters, and taking him shopping… well, it’s just the way to live out a child’s fantasy in the pages of a book!
While You’re Reading: The teacher in me loves seeing Madame Bodot take Crictor along to her classroom where he helps the students learn letters and numbers. Allow your little bookworm to fill in the words and concepts they may know: “L as in _____” (point to the picture of the lion). You can also ask your reader to guess what shapes Crictor could form.
Just for Fun: Make play-doh “Crictor” snakes and practice making letters, numbers, and shapes together! For another great boa constrictor book, check out The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble. I remember reading this one in my elementary school days- how is that for a double #tbt?
Crictor & Jimmy’s Boa should be readily available at your local library, or at the Amazon affiliate links provided.