From School Library Journal
Grade 2–5—Survivors since prehistoric times, crocodiles were quite endangered just a few years ago and are now in comeback mode. Arnosky's journey on foot and by boat through Florida's mangrove swamps brings sightings of several crocs of varied size and age. Engaging text and acrylic paintings of the flora and fauna sharing their habitat explain the differences between alligators and crocodiles and various aspects of the physical characteristics and behavior of crocodiles. As in many of the author's animal-viewing ventures, his personal experiences and observations enliven the history and life cycle information. Here the "safari" is further expanded in an enclosed DVD in which Arnosky talks with viewers as he walks through the mangroves, and the crocodiles, birds, and other wildlife move through the water and trees in daylight and more muted twilight. In the final third of the film, the artist is seated in his boat with a drawing pad and teaches viewers how to draw a crocodile and an alligator. Both book and film end with the words and music of "Counting Crocodiles," written and sung by Arnosky. The book also includes a final page of added notes on crocodiles. The package is a fine introduction to the homely crocodile, the importance of wildlife protection, and the work of this personable naturalist.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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Wildlife artist and naturalist Arnosky blends interesting facts about crocodiles, including their habits and habitats, with his exciting personal experiencess with the huge, dangerous reptiles in the Florida Everglades. Following basic information, such as the differences between alligators and crocodiles, the text then focuses on Arnosky’s own close, scary encounters with the animals in both a trash-filled mangrove creek next to a trailer park and in the wild swamps. Readers will be fascinated by the details about size, teeth, camouflage, and more, as well as the descriptions of the crocodiles stalking their prey for food at night, sunning themselves in the mud, swimming with just their eyes and snout above water, and springing off the bank, belly flopping only inches from Arnosky’s canoe, all illustrated in dramatic acrylic paintings. Supplementary material includes a DVD and a final page of facts about crocodiles around the world. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman