Sophie Gilmore’s Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast

h1 April 3rd, 2019 by jules


Sophie Gilmore’s picture book debut, Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast (Owlkids, March 2019), is the story of a “child the crocodiles called Little Doctor.” Carefully, tenderly, and kindly she treats the reptiles who come to her, looking for healing. After she has administered care, she hears the creatures’ adventure tales and listens in wonder to the “fearless beasts they described.”

One day, Big Mean shows up, a “legendary beast” and the biggest, most intimidating, and most fearsome crocodile there is. Little Doctor does her best to examine the creature, but Big Mean refuses to unclamp her jaws. Little Doctor momentarily gives up, but later, when she devises a plan to open the jaws and take a temperature, she falls inside the creature and discovers Big Mean’s real problem. After a brave rescue — that I won’t give away and one that involves a subtle reminder to child readers to consider their own carbon footprint — Big Mean then tells a tale of “great daring and determination,” the story of the fearless beast known as Little Doctor.

Gilmore, who now lives in Italy but made this book while living on a houseboat in London, was evidently inspired to tell this story (perfect for fans of Doctor Se Soto) by a real-life crocodile doctor in her family. I like our brave protagonist, whose courage is never sentimentalized, and Gilmore even draws many of these reptiles to be as dangerous-looking as they are in real life. These are spreads for poring over, as Gilmore paints with great detail Little Doctor’s world and her busy clinic in the wild. Children will be drawn in to the notion of a competent crocodile doctor who looks like she could be in elementary school. (Are those crocodile PJs under her white lab coat?) Gilmore plays with perspective to dramatic effect on several spreads, and her lines are delicate and elegant. (And how about that cover!)

Here is some art from the book. Enjoy!


“There once lived a child the crocodiles called Little Doctor.”
(Click to enlarge spread)



“In exchange for her kindness, the crocodiles told Little Doctor tales. Each legend teemed with terrible danger, dizzying escapes, and acts of great mischief. Little Doctor marveled at the fearless beasts they described.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“One day, such a legendary beast arrived. Little Doctor had heard whispers of her.
Big Mean was the biggest in the land, with stony eyes and jaws large enough to devour Little Doctor in one fell swoop. But today, her mouth was clamped shut.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


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LITTLE DOCTOR AND THE FEARLESS BEAST. Text and illustrations © 2019 Sophie Gilmore. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkeley, CA.

One comment to “Sophie Gilmore’s Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast

  1. There’s something very exciting about these illustrations. I’ll check out the book! Congrats, Sophie!

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