Beware of the Crocodile

illus. by Satoshi Kitamura. 32p. index. websites. Candlewick. Mar. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763675387.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—British conservation biologist Jenkins (Fabulous Frogs; Can We Save the Tiger?) teams up with Japanese illustrator Kitamura for a factual, funny, and frightening study of the lifespan of one of the world's most fearsome creatures. As Kitamura's grand and formidable crocodile moves from the title page to the first spread with jaws open wide, Jenkins's playful writing alleviates how frightening this subject can be: "If there's one thing you should know about crocodiles, it's that they're really scary—or at least the big ones are. They've got an awful lot of…teeth." Focusing on crocodiles' hunting and nesting patterns, the spare text is packed with information. When it is time for the crocodile to eat, the most gruesome parts are left off the page, but both text, rendered in different sizes, and illustrations give a sense of momentum and movement. This dramatic read-aloud contains occasional well-placed, offset crocodile facts, but stopping to read them doesn't disrupt the pacing. Kitamura's pen, watercolor, and mixed-media illustrations capture the animal's natural smile, adding personality, and the use of shadow and line adds tension as the animals sneak up on their prey. Back matter offers additional facts, including the difference between an alligator and a crocodile.
VERDICT An engaging and enlightening classroom read-aloud, and a first purchase for libraries.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR

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