cover image The Unexpected Crocodile

The Unexpected Crocodile

Kim Kane, illus. by Sara Acton. Allen & Unwin (IPG/Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1742378077

In this Australian divertissement written with an apparent nod to children who have wished their parents’ tiresome guests would disappear, a well-mannered crocodile in a red bowtie shows up on the front steps of Peggy’s house one wet evening. “Good evening,” the crocodile says. “I hear you’re having the Dawsons for dinner. May I join you?” Peggy’s parents are delightfully dimwitted (“You’re not Jack Dawson, are you?” Peggy’s mother says), while Mrs. Dawson’s reports of her three sons’ excellent behavior are given the lie by the boys themselves. “You can have your cole slaw back,” says Sam, the oldest Dawson son. “We’ll all have Mum’s croquembouche—and make it snappy.” Acton’s mad-dash, cartoon-style illustrations bear a family resemblance to Quentin Blake’s; their light touch is nicely suited to Kane’s pokerfaced storytelling. When the crocodile dispatches Mrs. Dawson, it’s just the beginning of a series of Dawson-centric meals for the animal. Even more perversely, Peggy’s mother is envious: “What’s so special about the Dawsons?” she wonders. If readers don’t mind the crocodile’s choice of entrée, this is a promising introduction to farce. Ages 3–5. (Nov.)