My Baby Crocodile

Gaëtan Dorémus, trans. from the French by Sarah Klinger. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $18.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-59270-192-6
When a junior knight blunders into a primeval swamp, his helmet looks sufficiently snoutlike to confuse a near-sighted crocodile, who thinks the knight is a baby croc. He showers his new baby with ardent, if awkward, affection; a bath in the river causes his baby to rust, and fish make inadequate blankets. Dorémus (Coyote Run) records their unlikely intimacy in densely cross-hatched ink drawings. Slowly, the older crocodile, who narrates the first section, realizes that his baby is human—and possibly tasty—while the knight, who narrates the latter section, sees that he could easily slay his friend. “It would be so easy to return home a hero,” says the boy. “But then, who would play with me?” he adds. “It would be so easy to gobble him up,” the crocodile muses (Klinger gives each character his own hand-lettered font). “But then, I’d be all alone with my full belly.” At last, the two part—but not forever. Klinger’s translation is skillful, and the story has the scale and gravity of a novel. Is this love or détente? It’s for readers to decide. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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