As she did in her award-winning Stellaluna, Janell Cannon explores issues of identity and being oneself in a carefully executed blend of science and fantasy. This time, her story focuses on a proud young python named Verdi. Sent out into the world by his mother to "grow up big and green," Verdi determines to do just the opposite. All the green snakes he meets are lazy and boring; he wants to stay young, yellow, and full of fun and energy. Unfortunately, even his irrepressible bounding through the jungle can’t stop the inevitable green from making its way across his skin. Verdi does everything he can think of to erase it, catapulting himself through the treetops until: Whippety, whappity, fwip, fwap, WHAM!
Rescued by the boring old green snakes, Verdi settles in for a long recuperation, and is surprised to learn that his hosts were once as adventurous as he was. Growing ever greener, he learns to appreciate slowing down; suddenly he can notice the wonders of nature that surround him. Still, a newly-healed, grown-up Verdi gets the chance to prove he’s still young at heart. When a couple of small, yellow pythons snicker at him basking in the sunshine, he offers to show them his fancy figure eight, and the three leap into the sky together in a burst of intergenerational friendship.
Cannon’s effervescent acrylic-and-colored-pencil pictures portray Verdi and his world realistically and accurately, but the ever-young Python radiates personality, making him a character children will gladly identify with. Two pages at the back of the book provide enough fascinating snake facts to satisfy curious readers and encourage students to look into the science behind the story.