Sunday, July 08, 2007

Kids Picture Books: The Iguana Brothers

I'll be honest and say that I picked up Tony Johnston's The Iguana Brothers: A Tale of Two Lizards because it had one of those shiny circular jagged edge golden stickers on it - those that proclaim awards and rope in parents who want their kids exposed to decorated material.

On closer inspection the sticker said "Presenting a tale of two lizards". But since the book had made its way into my hands I opened it. And the wonderful illustrations by Mark Teague reminded me vaguely of one of my comic book favorites - Rick Leonardi. Enough that I then read the entire thing. And I was so charmed by it that I ended up reading it to my sons, 6 and 9, who both loved it.

So what's so great about the book? Tom and Dom are two brothers who live in Mexico. They are both laid back and spend most of their times sunning themselves and ruminating about life. Early on after some back and forth Tom decides to become a vegetarian. Then he embarks on convincing his brother that they are dinosaurs. Together they decide to rule a leaf. And when Dom expresses his love for the twinkling stars in the Iguana constellation at night, Tom sets off to find a friend for Dom.

The Iguana Brothers for me was a tale of brotherly love. But what it does a great job of capturing is the easy-rider dudeness of male siblings. There are a lot of Mexican words woven deftly into the narrative and if you can essay a Mexican accent, you'll have a lot of fun reading the book to your kids. The book is also handily read by a 7 year old.

The illustrations reflect the relaxed narrative. And they are complex enough that multiple reads continue to be interesting.

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