What Does Little Crocodile Say?

h1 June 29th, 2021 by jules

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I love to see the work of Italian illustrator Eva Montanari, and she’s got a new book on shelves here in the States. What Does Little Crocodile Say? (Tundra, June 2021) was originally published in the UK in 2018, and it speaks directly to a specific early-childhood experience.

This is Little Crocodile’s dramatic experience in attending a preschool-type setting for the first time, something that can be emotionally wrought for both parent and child. But it’s not a traditional first-person or third-person narrative. Instead, it’s a book of sounds, if you will — an auditory adventure. The alarm clock wakes Little Crocodile; we hear the various sounds of getting ready in the morning (“the zipper goes zzzt”); we hear the sounds involved in getting from home to preschool (“the car door goes bleep”); and we hear, pictured below, the sounds of the other children (all anthropomorphized creatures) of the preschool classroom. On the day goes, filled with sounds, including Little Crocodile’s own boisterous “WWWWAAH”! when Big Crocodile leaves.

In illustrations that truly extend the text, we see that Little Crocodile is apprehensive — children will enjoy pointing out Little Crocodile’s facial expressions and body language, both indicating great resistance on the journey to school — but eventually grows accustomed to the preschool setting. The day is filled with storytime, musical instruments, snacks (“the food goes nom nom nom”), a much-needed nap (as you can see below), bubbles, and much more.

A child’s first day of daycare or preschool or even kindergarten is a huge step (for both parent and child). A variety of strong emotions can be a part of the mix, including anxiety and apprehension. Montanari captures this well here with colored pencils and chalk pastels in soft shades on ivory-colored backgrounds. It’s an excellent choice for sharing with that child you know, about to head to preschool for the first time. And it’s an excellent storytime choice for such settings. (Any adult who has ever had to drop off a wailing child at preschool will immediately undersatnd the tear on Big Crocodile’s face too.)

Here are some illustrations. …




“The pig says oink oink. The cat says meow. The bird says tweet tweet.
The frog says ribbit. The wolf says aroooo!”

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WHAT DOES LITTLE CROCODILE SAY? Text and illustrations copyright © 2021 by Eva Montanari and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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