Crocodile’s Tears

Alex Beard, Author
Alex Beard. Abrams, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0008-8
Paperback - 48 pages - 978-1-4197-0126-9
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More pointed than Beard’s The Jungle Grapevine and Monkey See, Monkey Draw, this offering also showcases his expressive, angular renderings of African animals. Working in pen-and-ink and watercolor, Beard uses wispy, swirling lines and bold shapes to create sky and flora. In the foreground, Rhino and Tickbird try to determine why Crocodile is crying. Afraid to approach him, the two go in search of “a wise golden eagle,” who suggests that Crocodile might miss the elephants. “[T]heir trumpets rarely sound anymore,” the eagle says, adding, “If you can find an elephant, you could ask him” about Crocodile’s distress. “If you can find...” is the repeated, operative phrase in the gentle if somewhat poky narrative, which sends Rhino and Tickbird from animal to animal, some of which (Beard explains in a note) are endangered, but all of which live in an environment “under siege.” The idiomatic meaning of “crocodile tears” isn’t mentioned, but lest things seem too dire, Beard delivers a playful twist ending that reminds readers that a crying crocodile is still a crocodile. A photo-essay about each species underscores the book’s ecological message. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
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