cover image The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water

Gemma Merino. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4163-5

What begins as an ordinary story of a young hero not fitting in with his peers takes an unexpected and rewarding detour in this debut from London-based author-illustrator Merino. The unnamed crocodile of the title hates being left out when his brothers and sisters swim, dive, and play games in the water, but he hates the water even more. Merino bypasses the obvious trajectory the story could take: while her hero gamely gives the water a chance, swimming with a red flotation ring and attempting a dive in an eight-panel spread (“One, twooo, two and a half, THREEEEE!”), these efforts don’t result in instant conversion. Instead, readers discover that his “problem” isn’t attitude but biology—there’s a good reason this “crocodile” came from a white egg, while his siblings emerged from blue ones. Merino’s renderings, using monotype prints and other media, give her hero tons of personality, from his expressive eyes and scraggly teeth to his spindly limbs and tiny wings—wait, wings? This isn’t a book to embolden timid swimmers; rather, it celebrates recognizing one’s strengths over forcing oneself to fit the mold. Ages 4–8. [em](May) [/em]