cover image Where Crocodiles Have Wings

Where Crocodiles Have Wings

Patricia C. McKissack, , illus. by Bob Barner. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1748-3

McKissack (Precious and the Boo Hag ) presents a fanciful bedtime rhyme: "There's a once-upon-a-place/ in time and space/ where surprises grow on trees/ And crocs have wings." Barner (Dem Bones ) depicts the imaginary animals cavorting in a universe studded with '60s-style stars and flowers. He draws the verses together by casting a boy in plaid pajamas in the role of modeling the activities of the poem, tracing his course through full-bleed spreads with a dotted line. Collages built of simple shapes cut from bright solids and prints, heavily outlined in ink, and mounted on fields of contrasting colors bring kinetic energy to McKissack's verses. "Coyotes sneeze/ And chickens wheeze/ Whenever the seasons/ change." Here, a gray rice-paper coyote with a long, pointy snout tries to stifle a sneeze with a handkerchief, but not before scattering a flock of chickens. A turtle sports a patchwork shell ("Where/ Turtles go fast/ never come last/ And win all the races they're in") and a smiling King of the Beasts strums a guitar ("A roaring mouse/ A lizard's house/ Or a lion who writes pretty love songs"). "Remember what to do," McKissack concludes, "Touch your toes/ Wiggle your nose/ and open a favorite book." Saucy images and rhythmic language await children who enter this alluring world. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)