Bernard Waber, Author-Illustrator The House on East 88th Street
48 pp. Houghton $3.00
Library edition $2.90
Tried out with a picture-book group, this tale of a domesticated crocodile named Lyle proved consistently captivating. In his story, Lyle wins the hearts of new residents of a New York City house where an actor has left him with a note, “Please be kind to my crocodile. He is the most gentle of creatures and would not do harm to a flea…” He proves most helpful and engaging as an companion, performing various housekeeping tasks (“…when he sets the table there is always a surprise”), doing tricks, playing in the park, and performing in a parade. The sketches of the great, green creature in all his fantastic endeavors will delight any child. V.H.
reviewed in the August 1962 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Bernard Waber, Author-Illustrator Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile g
48 pp. Houghton $3.25
Library edition $3.07
The benign and amiable crocodile who lives a life of incongruous contentment in the Primms’ Victorian home becomes the center of controversy when he frightens a neighbor’s cat. Poor Lyle is taken downtown where his day’s activities — frolicking in the park, skating at Rockefeller Center, browsing in antique shops, and finally creating a commotion in a department store — make hilarious picture-book sequence but fail to help him out of his difficulties. Only Lyle’s great heroism in a middle-of-the-night fire establishes him as a desirable citizen and restores neighborhood harmony. In design and format, similar to House on East 88th Street. E.L.H.
reviewed in the October 1965 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Bernard Waber, Author-Illustrator A Firefly Named Torchy g
40 pp. Houghton $4.95
Library edition $4.23
A rich explosion of color in impressionistic spreads — a new style for the author-illustrator. Torchy is a young firefly who has followed his mother’s advice: “‘Eat your dinner…and some day you will grow up as big and as bright as your father.’” Other mothers want to know what he has eaten, for Torchy astonishes everyone with his bright light. However, his brightness offends the night-sleeping creatures who want only a soft twinkling. “‘TURN OFF THAT LIGHT,’” everyone shouts. Torchy sighs and tries to twinkle softly, but it takes more than wishing. The brilliant nonsense is cleverly shown in scenes which switch from darkness to a white daytime kind of illumination. The fine, funny answer to the problem unfolds with a fantastic and unexpected display of lights. V.H.
reviewed in the October 1970 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Bernard Waber, Author-Illustrator Ira Says Goodbye g
40 pp. Houghton 1988 ISBN 0-395-48315-8 $13.95
In the sixteen years since we first met Ira in Ira Sleeps Over (Houghton), he has assumed near-legend status. An older, taller Ira is featured in this book, reminiscing about his friendship with Reggie and their shared adventures after being told of Reggie’s impending move. The bearer of bad news is, of course, of course, Ira’s still nasty, know-it-all sister. At first the boys commiserate together about their parting, but when Reggie starts to be eager to experience the joys of the new town, Ira is hurt. In a true-to-life ending, communication resumes, turtles and coveted baseball cards are traded as peace offerings, and Ira looks forward to spending the weekend with Reggie. “‘But you’re not leaving until Saturday,’ said my mother. ‘You have two whole days to pack.’ ‘I don’t want to be late,’ I said.” The author uses an understated style that’s perfect for suggesting the grief of parting with a best friend, without putting a burden on the story. The illustrations are in full color and add humor and warmth to the book. Ira’s young fans will be glad he’s back. E.S.W.
reviewed in the November/December 1988 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Bernard Waber Bearsie Bear and the Surprise Sleepover Party; illus. by the author
40 pp. Lorraine/Houghton 10/97 ISBN 0-39S-86450-X 15.00 g
On a cold winter night when the wind is howling and Bearsie Bear is just warmly tucked in and falling asleep, there comes a knock at the door. It is Moosie Moose wanting to sleep over. Just this once, says Bearsie Bear, and they retire to their cozy slumber. But subsequent knocks reveal Cowsie Cow, Piggie Pig, Foxie Fox, and Goosie Goose, all bent on the same errand. Kindly Bearsie Bear adds them one by one to the now crowded bed. But when Porkie Porcupine arrives, all the other guests depart in a prickly hurry, and Bearsie Bear exiles Porkie to under the bed. But finally all are reconciled, with Porkie Porcupine in bed with the others — “and he was very careful not to thrash about.” A splendid readaloud, extremely repetitive (“‘It’s me, Piggie Pig,’ said Piggie Pig. ‘Piggie Pig?’ said Cowsie Cow. ‘Piggie Pig?’ said Moosie Moose. ‘Piggie Pig?’said Bearsie Bear. ‘Yes, Piggie Pig,’ said Piggie Pig”) and very funny, too: the reader-aloud will undoubtedly be joined by a chorus of listeners happily helping the story along its cumulative way. The line-and-watercolor illustrations are funny and homey, with a generous use of white space that gives the story plenty of room. A.A.F.
reviewed in the September/October 1997 issue of The Horn Book Magazine