Planet Picture Book

What Does the Crocodile Say?

Little croc is off to daycare for the first time and he’s not very happy about it. But he soon discovers there is plenty to enjoy in his new environment.

Sending a young child to daycare can be an emotional time for both parents and children. My eldest wailed every time I left her (for weeks) and I often had a little sob as I drove away. We could both have done with this lovely picture book!

What Does the Crocodile Say? covers a day in the life of a little crocodile. Only this is no ordinary day; unbeknownst to him, little croc is off to daycare for the very first time. After a gorgeous series of vignettes showing mother croc and little croc running through a classic early morning routine (morning tickle, bath, brekkie), the front door shuts with a loud ‘WUMPTH’. Little croc realises that something is up: as his mother strides ahead, he halts, a questioning look on his face. In fact, we notice his expressions and demeanour evolve in the next few images: from anxious to beseeching and fearful. By the time they reach the daycare centre, mother croc is looking rather disconcerted, too! This is hard for both of them and there are tears on both sides as mum leaves her little one in this new environment.

What happens next will reassure children . . . and their parents/carers. Through tender illustrations and simple language including lots of onomatopoeia, Eva Montanari gently steers readers through little croc’s first experience of daycare. And what a beautiful day it is for him and the other animals at the centre; a story, music, lunch, nap and play are all on the program. And we see little croc gradually moving away from a position of comfort and security close to his teacher to independent participation in activities with the other animals.

It’s a great book for showing young children what to expect at daycare, and for talking them through the day that lies ahead. I can almost hear myself saying things like: ‘Yum I wonder what little croc and his friends are having for lunch. Oh, look they are having a lovely nap now. How much fun are they are having with those instruments!’ It helps that little croc is particularly cute. No gnashing teeth and scaly reptilian skin here. In fact, all the characters in the story rate high on the cute and cuddlesome scale. I adore the double page spread showing the little animals napping at nursery – a perfect study of the sleeping young – lying sideways, halfway down their sleeping mat, sprawled out, limbs outstretched, and clutching favourite toys.

What Does the Crocodile Say? is an appealing, entertaining and reassuring read for young children who are due to start daycare, and their parents/carers, too.

Many thanks to Book Island for providing me with a review copy of this book.

The Book
What Does the Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari (Book Island, 2018, published by arrangement with Debbie Bibo agency)

The Author/Illustrator
Eva Montanari is an Italian author/illustrator, who started illustrating children’s books while she was still an art student in Milan. Since then, her work has been published in many countries around the world and translated into multiple languages.

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