The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water. Gemma Merino. Illustrations by Gemma Merino. 2013. Macmillan Children’s Books. 24 pages.
“The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water” by Gemma Merino follows one little crocodile who, unlike his brothers and sisters, absolutely hates to swim. He really wants to play with the other crocodiles though so saves up his money from the tooth fairy to buy a rubber ring. This is an incredibly clever story with an ending that surprised both myself and ThisBoy. On reflection, it’s a reworked version of The Ugly Duckling but Merino breathes new life into this familiar tale. Unlike the traditional story by Hans Christian Andersen, the crocodile isn’t bullied for being different and the story is the better for it.
The illustrations, also by Gemma Merino, use a lovely muted palette of greens and blues with pops of red throughout. The little crocodile, standing out from the others in his red boots, is extremely relatable and his nervous face is particularly endearing. The red boots are really helpful for younger readers as the sad little crocodile remains easily identifiable even after he gets much bigger and grows wings.
The realisation that the crocodile is actually a dragon has captivated ThisBoy’s imagination and he can (and often does!) recite the last few pages by heart. It helps that ThisBoy is at the stage where he loves dragons and dinosaurs but it’s evident from the almost constant requests to read it that this book is a firm favourite. Gemma Merino has written and illustrated two more books since this one (“The Cow Who Climbed a Tree” and “The Sheep Who Hatched An Egg”) and they are definitely going on our wish list!
About the Author
Gemma Merino won the prestigious Macmillan Prize for Children’s Illustration in 2011, whilst studying for her MA in Children’s Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. This is her debut picture book.
Mum’s score: 5 out of 5
With such a heartfelt story, lovely illustrations and a fantastic twist it’s a book I can easily read over and over without getting bored.
ThisBoy’s score: 5 out of 5
A firm favourite at bedtime and a regular in his bag when we go out and about. He particularly likes doing a massive sneeze like the little crocodile.