by Henrik Hovland
Torill Kove, illustrator
Don Bartlett, translator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Back Cover: “John Jensen feels that he’s different from everyone else. Maybe it’s his tail? Or his bow tie? None of his attempts to fit in succeed—until an unexpected turn of events helps him discover that maybe he’s best off exactly the way he is. This delightful story will encourage readers of all ages to fear standing out in a crowd.”
Opening: “This is John Jensen. This is where John Jensen lives. John Jensen feels different.”
John Jensen thinks he is different from everyone else. Why? Well, he is a crocodile in a human world, he has very sharp teeth, and a tail—a long, green, scaly tail. John worries about being different. Riding the bus, he believes everyone is staring at him, yet no one is paying him any mind. He likes wearing bowties, but is the only one. Not to stand out, John Jensen switches to a tie.
At night, John Jensen lies awake worrying about being different. Despite most crocodiles looking like other crocodiles, John fears he is adopted—he does not look like anyone of his relatives. (Yes, he does.) John Jensen is right about one thing: he is the only one at work with a tail. John decides to tie his tail to his stomach.
John Jensen did not realize how difficult walking would be. He trips over a curb, landing on his back. The illustrations portray John’s self-doubt in ways that will please young kids. His big feet, with up turned toes fit nicely in a pair of slippers. Brushing his teeth, John shows off his large, sharp, teeth while wearing a towel. Seeing him flossing his teeth might encourage kids to do the same, but it will definitely have them laughing. John Jensen needs to laugh. He is so hung-up on being different he fails to see how similar he is to those around him or that hist tail might make him special.
When John Jensen falls with his tail tied to his stomach, he needs to go to the hospital. There, he meets an unusual doctor that is certainly different than other doctors. The good doctor is an elephant. Dr. Field has a long nose and an even larger set of ears. I love his red tennis shoes. Dr. Field asks a simple question,
“Why did you tie up your tail?”
John Jensen’s answer is simple,
“I don’t want to be different.”
John Jensen Feels Different will have children thinking about the positive aspects of features they do not like about themselves. Dr. Fields tells John Jensen that his huge ears come in quite handy during a scary movie. While others try to guard their eyes with their hands, Dr. Field has his huge ears that nicely cover his.
Norwegian author, Henrik Hovland’s John Jensen Feels Different will have children looking at themselves differently. Instead of viewing their differences as exclusionary, those characteristics will become interesting, welcoming traits. I like this book as a back-to-school book or any time a child’s environment will change. John Jensen Feels Different is Henrik Hovland’s first children’s book.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers enjoys translating foreign children’s books to bring the best of the world to kids. In addition to exposing children to writers from around the globe, books like John Jensen Feels Different show children that kids are the same, no matter where they happen to live.
Released February 1, 2012
Age 4 to 8
JOHN JENSEN FEELS DIFFERENT. Text copyright © 2003 by Henrik Hovland. Illustrations copyright © 2003 by Torill Kove. Translation copyright © 2012 by Don Bartlett. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Children, Grand Rapids MI.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
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