Crictor – book review

by Tomi Ungerer
Picture book
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Crichtor is a very special boa constrictor who belongs to an elderly French lady named Madame Louise Bodot. He was a birthday present to her from her son, who was studying reptiles in Africa. Although Crichtor was a surprise (he made Madame shriek when she opened the box), Madame quickly adjusts to her new pet – learning about his species at the zoo, bottle-feeding him (the illustration shows Crichtor coiled in her lap), and making him feel loved and at home (she brings in palm trees and knits him a sweater for the colder months).

Crichtor blossoms under her tender ministrations and becomes a most helpful snake (he holds Madame’s books in his coils, helps out at the school where she teaches, even rescues her from a burglary). The whole town comes to know and admire the reptile and he lives a long and happy life.

All I can say about Crichtor is, “How have I not read this before now?” This sweet story will make readers laugh as they watch the very proper Madame Louise bring her snake up to be a model citizen. She obviously adores Crichtor, and you will too.

Illustrations are primarily black and white ink with some red and green highlights, and show an expressive Crichtor (I don’t think snakes have eyelashes, smile, or wag their tails like dogs) slithering into all kinds of positions as he follows his elderly mistress around their home and about town.

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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