cover image The Crocodile and the Scorpion

The Crocodile and the Scorpion

Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1

The Emberleys (The Ant and the Grasshopper) reinterpret a grim, lesser-known fable about two baddies whose natures come back to bite (and sting) them. From the get-go, the father-daughter team infuses the narrative with humor, introducing the protagonists in less than flattering terms: “They both had brains no bigger than a pebble, which did not serve them very well, as you will see.” Neither has any friends, since the scorpion is “always stinging things,” the crocodile is “always biting things,” and their victims “seem not to like that.” With good reason, readers will be skeptical when the characters promise not to sting or bite each other while the crocodile carries the scorpion across the river, and after giving into their impulses, each blames the other as they sink—permanently—to the river bottom. The Emberleys’ angular, geometric cut-paper art is more static and less varied than some of their previous collaborations, and the ending (while true to the original) is abrupt. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had watching these two Darwin Award contenders bring about their doom. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)