Great Illustrated Books

My Crocodile Does Not Bite

By Joe Kulka

Lerner Publishing Group, 2012
Pages : 32
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9780761389378

There goes Ernest walking to the bus stop with his pet on a leash, hoping to win the annual school pet show.  Three classmates stand by holding their pets: goldfish, cat, and frog.  And, oh yes, Cindy Lou and her dog are there, too, snooty and sure that they are going to win.  But will they?  Ernest's pet is a GIGANTIC crocodile. 

"He'll bite everybody," Cindy Lou protests.  "My crocodile does not bite," Ernest answers – again and again throughout this entertaining, cheer-for-the-little-guy-even-though-the-little-guy-is-anything-but-little picture book.

Gustave, the croc, is a well-trained pet.  He doesn't fit into the school bus?  No matter: Ernest rides him to school.  Just a whistle from Ernest, and Gustave gives him a hug.  With a clap of Ernest's hands, Gustave juggles tennis balls. He's got lots of great tricks and a whole lot of personality to match.  The students and teachers clearly adore him.  Everyone does, except Cindy Lou and Fifi, who are getting madder by the minute.

We all know kids like Cindy Lou, and it may not be nice, but still it's impossible not to cheer when Gustave swallows little Fifi and then Cindy Lou!  But true to Ernest's words, Gustave doesn't bite – just swallows.  Soon enough, Gustave spits out the two, just in time for him to be awarded the best in show ribbon. 

It's always heartening when the good guy wins, so this feel-good story is one parents and teachers will want to share often with kids.  The open, inviting white pages and comfortably old-fashioned illustrations give picture book lookers just enough information about characters and happenings, but stop short of telling everything – leaving listeners to add their own details to make the story their own.

Reviewed by : LLW


If you love this book, then try:

Litwin, Eric & James Dean. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. HarperCollins, 2010.

Rosenthal, Eileen. I Must Have Bobo! Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011.

Wiesner, David. Art & Max. Clarion Books, 2010.

Critics have said

Absurdity abounds in Kulka's tale of a clever boy who knows that telling the truth���just not the whole truth���can be pretty entertaining.
Publishers Weekly