By Bernard Waber
Houghton Mifflin, 1969
Everyone loved Lyle the Crocodile. The Primm Family, with whom he lived, loved him dearly, of course. And the bakery lady loved him. She always gave Lyle a cookie; his favorite kind, with colorful sprinkles on top.
Look closely at the above image. I’m pretty sure that’s red Kool-Aid, circa the 1970’s, spilled over the top right cover. On the left is a piece of Scotch tape on which either my sister or me priced this book at a reasonable 3 cents. But of course, we would never really sell it to anyone besides each other. Out of all the Lyle books, this was by far our favorite. Uber-friendly, tender-hearted Lyle is crushed when he starts receiving hate mail from a secret enemy. To try to make the terrible missives stop, he ramps up his juggling abilities and practices big, big smiles in the mirror. But the letters keep coming. The mystery of who is sending them and why will keep kids interested, and I love the myriad of important life lessons this book teaches. Take your pick: “It isn’t always possible to please everyone.” “Don’t judge people before you get to know them.” “Watch your kid at the beach,” and so on.