cover image Arrivederci, Crocodile: Or See You Later, Alligator

Arrivederci, Crocodile: Or See You Later, Alligator

Fred Marcellino, illus. by Eric Puybaret. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0401-4

Newbery Honoree Marcellino (Puss in Boots) had finished the text of this sequel to I, Crocodile but died before the illustrations were complete. After his death, Puybaret (Suite for Human Nature) was chosen to complete the work. The sequel opens as the Egyptian crocodile stews in a Paris sewer after escaping from Napoleon, who threatened to eat him—Puybaret paints the reptile chucking darts at Napoleon’s portrait. Napoleon, he reads in the newspaper, is planning a trip to Venice, and the croc, pasta on the mind, decides to follow. In Venice’s carnival atmosphere, the crocodile’s appearance is taken as an artful costume. He is welcomed and praised (“Extraordinary outfit!... And that appetite! Very crocodile”), his attendance at the grand ball climaxing in a dance sequence with a harlequin-clad partner. When Napoleon appears, prepared to dispatch the croc after plundering the city of its treasure, the Venetians defend their guest. Puybaret shares Marcellino’s knack for detailing costumes and architecture—spreads have the lively air of a marionette theater set—and the crocodile’s bon vivant personality and the slapstick ending help create a lively telling. I, Crocodile was originally published in 1999, however, and some of the cultural references in this continuation, such as “Egyptian dances,” feel out of step with current conversations about appropriation and exoticism. Ages 4–8. [em](Sept.) [/em]