Large Print Reviews
I'm a Manatee
By John Lithgow
I'm a Manatee - (Book and CD)
By John Lithgow
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Book and CD edition, (2003)
Genre: Children's Fiction
An Amazon.com Review, by John Moe
Not blessed with the adorable good looks of a koala, the mythic mystery of a dinosaur, or even the useful familiarity of a dog, the manatee is an infrequent hero in the world of children's literature. It doesn't help matters that the poor thing has a name that's so difficult to rhyme. But the unnamed hero of John Lithgow and Ard Hoyt's I'm a Manatee (really, a boy dreaming he is a manatee) sees plenty of upside to the life of the animal that's been indelicately nicknamed the "cow of the sea." And when rhymes are unavailable to state his case, he simply makes some up: "Encumbered by my lumbering gigan-atee,/ I'm thought to be an ocean-going brute!/ The least appealing creature on the planet-ee,/ But to a manatee, I'm cute!" The words in the book are the same as the lyrics in the song version of I'm a Manatee, which is included on an enclosed CD featuring a singing Lithgow as well as in musical notation in the back of the book. The verses sound more natural in their original musical form than they do read aloud in the pages of the book where they can clunk a bit. Still, there's much to like about in this aquatic flight of fancy, including the kind of wordplay moms and dads will enjoy (very few kids' books contain the phrase "immune from human folly and inanity") and Hoyt's illustrations of the title animal, which manages to be simultaneously homely and adorable. (Ages 4 to 8)
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