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Last updated Sunday, September 5, 2010

Author: Janell Cannon
Date of Publication: 1997
ISBN: 0152010289
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jul. 2010

Synopsis: Verdi is a proud python, flourishing in the flower of his youth. He loves to swiftly slither around the forest, brandishing his bright yellow skin, and can't fathom why anyone would want to be sleepy and green like the adult snakes he knows. Verdi insists, as so many youngsters do, "I will never be lazy, boring or green!" Despite his resolve to stay young, one day he notices a patch of green spreading down the length of his body. Verdi does everything he can think of to erase this first sign of the inevitable tide of age. But in his frenzy of youthful, Icarus-like bravado, he nearly kills himself. Finally, Verdi learns that even though he can't stop the aging process, green skin won't keep him from being a fun-loving, young-at-heart, figure-eight-forming snake. Janell Cannon's illustrations are exquisite. As in her award-winning Stellaluna, not only are the animal drawings painstakingly accurate, they are also awash with movement and beauty. The countless shades of greeny-yellow and yellowy-green have the effect of a cool eye compress for the reader--calming, inviting, and enticing readers to reach into the lush environment of the pages. Verdi's lesson is never didactic, always compelling, and pleasantly surprising.

Note to readers:
•  Read the “Snake Notes” in the back of book—it will make fun conversation at a party!

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What does “Verdi” mean? (green in Italian; “verde” is green in Spanish; they are pronounced similarly)
•  What is on the cover? (a snake, specifically a python)
•  Is he green? Why not? (baby pythons are yellow when they are born and grow up green)
•  What does “dawdle” mean? (to intentionally move slowly to annoy your parents!)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How big do Pythons get? (this species gets to be about 6 feet long)
•  Would you want a pet snake? Can they help around the house? (they eat mice and rats)
•  Do you want to grow older?
•  Is it more fun to be a kid or an adult? Why?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a paper snake. Take a piece of paper and cut a spiral—draw a spiral and cut along the lines or cut out a large circle and continue to cut inside. Make the last or end of the cut the head of the snake. Have the kids color the snake. For added fun, have the kids draw and color on a piece of paper and then cut out he spiral/snake. The pattern would be random.
•  Draw a snake and then draw the jungle setting around it. For fun, try to camouflage the snake so it cannot be seen easily.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!