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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Beware of the Crocodile, written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House. 2019. $22,99 ages 4 and up

"And they're not at all picky
about what they eat, as long
as it's got a bit of meat on it.

When it comes to hunting
down their dinner, they're
very determined and very
cunning. They know all the
places along the sides of the
rivers and lakes where animals
come down to drink."

With tongue in cheek, Martin Jenkins describes for his young audience some of the distinctive features of the crocodile. By doing so, he is able to educate while also captivating them with scary scenes and impressions.

First up, he wants them to know that crocodiles are 'really scary - or at least the big ones are.' That has to do with their teeth, their cunning ways, their quick action when prey unintentionally gets a bit too close. He explains it can be gruesome, but goes no further than that.

He then says that a good meal will hold the crocodile for some time, allowing it to have a long, enjoyable nap (as humans often do), and to scope out new hiding places for seizing its next meal.
As he tells his story, further informative text is added to the spread using a different font.

That is not all that crocodiles do:

"But there's more to crocodiles than SPLASH, snap, twirl, swallow.
You might be surprised to hear that they make very good parents.
Or mothers, we should say."

He goes on to fully explain all that a mother does to lay, incubate, hatch and get her babies to the water, where she will continue to care for them for an extended time. She protects them as they grow and thrive (those who survive), allowing them to take their place along the river's edge in search of their own sustenance.

An ending paragraph, suggestions for further research and an index complete this stellar book. It is a wonderful way to introduce young children to the elements of illustrated nonfiction in very accessible text.

Mr. Kitamura creates lively accompanying artwork to enhance the learning and to draw a child's attention to the information presented. The palette chosen seems perfect, and the horizontal perspectives ensure a real sense of size and danger for readers.

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