Jenkins, Martin. Beware of the Crocodile. Satoshi Kitamura, Illus. Non-fic. Candlewick, 03/2019. 29pp. $16.99. 978-0-7636-7538-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-3.
The opening scene of a toothy, open-mouthed crocodile grabs attention and doesn’t let go until the index at the end of this excellent non-fiction picture book. Kitamura’s distinctive mixed-media illustrations combine rich color washes with scraggly ink outlines of crocodilian skin and numerous sharp teeth. The author is a conservation biologist who reveals the “gruesome” facts about crocodiles in a witty and conversational tone that is a pleasure to read aloud. Occasional side notes provide additional facts without interrupting the careful pacing, as some page turns fall mid-sentence or after an “And then?” The illustrations build dramatic tension and exude personality without anthropomorphizing any of the animals, except perhaps for the terrified warthog facing an oncoming crocodile’s open maw, and the “About Crocodiles” page at the end where a dapper crocodile dressed in a suit examines a menu with today’s specials: Baby Croc and Human.
Jennifer Vetter, Emerson School