Uncle Theodore is huffing, Aunt Figgy is fretting, and Alice Jayne is tapping her foot--pretty subdued behavior considering the fact that a hungry crocodile has just appeared under the Christmas tree. This eccentric family handles the mysterious reptile remarkably well, even though the beast seems to have an appetite as fierce as its legendary bite. The Christmas Crocodile tears around the house eating everything in sight, whether edible (a roast, five golden oranges, a pineapple upside-down cake) or inedible (a shoe, ribbons, a feather boa, earmuffs, and fruitcake). The family is divided over how to best deal with this unexpected guest. Send him to an orphanage? Pack him off to the zoo? Make him into a pair of shoes? "He's nice," said Alice Jayne. "Maybe we could keep him." Just when it seems the crocodile has eaten all he can stomach, the family awakens to discover that he has consumed nearly all the presents and the Christmas tree too! The one uneaten gift holds the key to this toothsome tale, as well as a surprise that will have kids smiting their foreheads in gleeful anticipation of more mayhem to come.
Author Bonny Becker has crafted a rollicking reptile romp, with an apologetic refrain--"The Christmas Crocodile didn't mean to be bad, not really"--to which children can surely relate. David Small, creator of the Caldecott Honor-winning The Gardener, accompanies Becker's spritely, funny text with equally amusing, expressive illustrations that will have youngsters poring over this book long after the last present has been unwrapped. (Ages 4 to 8) --Brangien Davis
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2?Alice Jayne finds a crocodile with a big red bow around its neck under the tree on Christmas Eve. The toothy beast proceeds to bite, gnaw on, or eat up whatever it gets near. Banished to the basement, the insatiable creature holds court as the entire family slips down to comfort it. Unfortunately, they all doze off, awakening to find that the house is a disaster. Having eaten the Christmas tree and all the presents, the croc is looking "alarmingly round." Just then the family discovers that it was delivered to the wrong address. Two men show up and take it away, much to the relief of everyone but Alice Jayne. Small's wonderful watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations set the mayhem in a turn-of-the-century mansion, but the text simply doesn't match the energy of the pictures. This Christmas Crocodile is no budding star; Bernard Waber's Lyle at Christmas (Houghton, 1998) is funnier and more satisfying.?LF
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