cover image The Selfish Crocodile

The Selfish Crocodile

Faustin Charles, Charles Faustin. Little Tiger Press, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-888444-56-8

A crocodile claims ownership of the forest's river and forcibly defends his turf. His impressive array of sharp teeth intimidates the other animals: ""Whenever they were thirsty, they had to go for miles out of their way to drink in other rivers and streams."" Then one day, when a terrible toothache torments the crocodile, a tiny mouse suddenly and inexplicably scurries into his mouth to extract the offending molar. The crocodile's hard heart quickly softens and he realizes, ""The river belongs to all of us!"" Charles (A Caribbean Counting Book) uses just enough dialogue to ratchet up the story's drama, yet omits the motive behind the mouse's decision to risk his life and help the crocodile. Terry's (Animal Stories) full-bleed spreads, in tropical blues and greens, convey a verdant panorama. His broadly portrayed animals sport bug eyes and cartoonish grins, and the louche crocodile--depicted in one spread lounging with centerfold-like raffishness--is particularly sporting. But because key narrative developments seem to be skipped over or taken for granted, the resolution feels rushed and the moral diluted. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)