I am up to my eyeballs in crocodile tales. The Littlest G, who’s three, is obsessed with crocodiles, and come book time, it’s all he wants.
Some of the books stand up really, really well to multiple readings. Chih-Yuan Chen’s Guji-Guji is one of my all-time favourite picture books, and I don’t think I could ever tire of the illustrations. It’s a re-telling of the Ugly Duckling story, but in this case, it’s a crocodile who thinks he’s a duck and Mama Duck is quite happy to have him in the nest with her other little ducklings. When three bad crocodiles appear and reveal Guji-Guji’s true identity and try to enlist him in their nefarious plans, Guji-Guji has to decide what matters more: what he is or who he has become.
Another crocodile book on heavy rotation is The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry. Another retelling, this time of Aesop’s lion and the mouse, one brave little mouse has the power to tame the foul temper of a selfish crocodile who has driven away all the living creatures from in and near his river. Call me crazy, but it irritates me when authors and illustrators get crazy with animal habitats. Polar bears and penguins: live on opposite poles of the earth, people. In this book, there is a jumble of marine and land animals that I am sure do not belong together in nature. It ends too suddenly, too, so that I always feel a jolt at the end when the resolution arrives too abruptly. These are things that grate after one or two readings. After dozens, I’m ready to hurl the book across the room, but my baby carries this book around like it’s treasure. When his brother offered to read it to him last night (thank you!), and was stumbling over some of the words, Littlest G was able to jump right in and recite the book. Who can resist such love??
I’ve read Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile more times than I can count this week, and tonight I finally had to cry “Mercy!” and tell the Littlest G that I could not read about the Enormous Crocodile’s secret plans and clever tricks one more time or my head would explode. I begged for a break, and he grudgingly obliged.
We are off to the library to stock up on new crocodile tales. What are your favourites?