cover image Kind Crocodile

Kind Crocodile

Leo Timmers, trans. from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke. Gecko, $16.99 (28p) ISBN 978-1-7765-7470-4

This large-format board book unfolds with a witty pileup—a Timmers (Elephant Island) specialty—resulting when four animals successively seek refuge on the long back of grassy green Crocodile. First on board is a frantic little rodent who implores “kind Crocodile” to save it from a marvelously villainous snake with focused eyes and a long red tongue. Crocodile, as genuinely compassionate a reptile as the title promises, not only acquiesces, it also emits a menacing “GRRRR!” that sends the snake fleeing. As other potential prey stack up vertically on the scaly reptile’s back, Crocodile remains committed to protecting each, but also appears increasingly beleaguered as the animals’ weight becomes physically crushing. In a bumpy resolution that requires a jump on the part of readers, the previously fleeing animals muster some courage and turn the tables on a hungry lion. Their triumphant comment—“Nothing can scare us ever again”—naturally provokes Crocodile, who emits a playful “GRRRR... JUST KIDDING,” reminding the group how recently they required external assistance. The story may not be quite as tight as Timmers’s previous works, but it’s a diverting reminder that kindness comes in all shapes and sizes—and sometimes requires community. Ages 2–4. (Mar.)