cover image The Kindhearted Crocodile

The Kindhearted Crocodile

Lucia Panzieri, trans. from the Italian by Grace Maccarone, illus. by AntonGionata Ferrari. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2767-3

In a quirky story first published in Italy in 2008, a crocodile longs to be a family pet. The crocodile’s hammy facial expressions and antics are worthy of Broadway, but his ferocious teeth make him an unlikely companion. One evening, “the kindly crocodile had a brilliant idea. He would sneak into a home through the pages of a lovely picture book. Inside the book he was just paper and paint.” The crocodile emerges from the pages of the book (cleverly, it’s the same book readers are holding) into a family room with clutter emphasized by chaotic, white scrawls. The crocodile goes about tidying, folding laundry, and preparing breakfast, only to slip back into the book before the puzzled family awakes. Ferrari’s raucous sketches channel Quentin Blake, with playful use of space and eruptions of color and collage elements. After the family uncovers the identity of its secret helper, Panzieri gives the story a tongue-in-cheek ending: the crocodile wins over the agitated parents by appealing to their adult sensibilities, “fix[ing] a very good cup of coffee for each of the grown-ups.” Ages 4–8. (Apr.)