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Friday, December 16, 2016

The Christmas Crocodile, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by David Small. two lions, Amazon. Thomas Allen & Son, 1998. $25.99 ages 5 and up

"Aunt Figgy's scream shattered cobwebs in the attic, and made the dust dance on a bottle of wine in the cellar. "I'll save you!" roared Uncle Theodore, waking with a start from a dream about cannibals. "Run for your lives!" shrieked Cousin Elwood. "There's blood!" gasped Aunt Figgy pointing to a pinprick of red on her little toe."

What would you think if your kids found a crocodile under the Christmas tree? Alice Jayne does, and is aghast as she watches it devour almost everything in its path. Who sent him? What to do?

Every family member has a solution to the mayhem created. Alice Jayne ends up locking him in the back room, as she has been ordered to do. She cannot help but worry about him and his insatiable hunger. So, she secretly slips him a cake and a pie. Then begins the conversation about ways to handle the situation.

"He's nice," said Alice Jayne.
"Maybe we should keep him."
"Unheard of!" protested Aunt Figgy.
"But, it's Christmas," said Alice Jayne.
"Irrelevant," harrumphed
Uncle Theodore.
"He's a little hungry,
that's all," said Alice Jayne.
"Perhaps the zoo would take
him," said Father, worriedly.
"He needs a real home!" cried Alice Jayne."

The crocodile's nighttime snacking does nothing to endear him to the assembled family members. The cellar for him! Poor Alice Jayne. The joy that is Christmas dissipates as she lies in bed worrying about the poor, lonely beast. Apparently, the family has been sharing her concerns. They all troop to the basement to spend the night alongside him. In the morning, when they discover that he has escaped once more and eaten everything in sight, they are furious. Only then do they see the single present left under the tree. The note inside clears up their concerns and provides a solution. Thankfully!

The crocodile doesn't mean to be bad. It is just his nature. The often hilarious, and always expressive illustrations created by David Small in watercolor, pen and ink will have readers nearly rolling on the floor every time it is shared ... and you will share it, a lot! It is sure to become a Christmas tradition at our house. I'm so happy that Nancy Perl championed it, and that two lions made it possible.

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