Catherine Rayner studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art. She fell in love with the city and still lives there with a small menagerie of creatures including Shannon the horse, Ena the cat and a goldfish called Sheila, all of whom inspire her work. In 2006 Catherine won the Best New Illustrator Award at the Booktrust Early Years Award and in 2009 was awarded the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. Solomon Crocodile is Catherine's second book for Macmillan, following the critically acclaimed Ernest.
Short, sweet, and tailor-made for story time, this perfectly paced tale of jungle mischief introduces a toddlerlike crocodile, Solomon, whose definition of "fun" is what other animals would probably label "annoying." In quick succession, Solomon "splats and slops through the mud to make the frogs jump," then "shakes the bulrushes and bugs the dragonflies," and "decides to stalk the storks. They get in such a flap!" Each time, the animals send him away ("Go away, Solomon. You're nothing but a nuisance"), especially the "biggest hippo in the river," who proves no easy target. "Go away! You're nothing but trouble!" the hippo roars, as Solomon instantly goes from gleeful to terrified. Luckily for Solomon, he's not one of a kind, and his discovery of a like-minded crocodile signals the arrival of a friend-and "double trouble" for the animal kingdom. Greenaway Medalist Rayner (Harris Finds His Feet) offers a playful hero with expressive eyes, a sly smile and paint-spattered skin. Parents with willful and rambunctious kids may groan, but the book has the makings of a readaloud hit. Ages 2-6. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
PreS-K-In this charming story, a bored crocodile wants to play. Sadly, his attempts to rustle up some fun are met with increasing annoyance from his fellow river inhabitants. Frogs call him a nuisance; dragonflies, a pest; storks, a pain; and the hippos bellow that he's "nothing but trouble!" Solomon slinks away until he hears somebody else creating chaos. With a "Snap!" he encounters another crocodile. The last spread shows the happy "Double Trouble" team jumping out in unison, while the rest of the animals flee. The theme of a lonely creature seeking a friend is hardly a novel one, but Rayner imbues it with new life through her delightfully energetic illustrations and perfect interplay of text and image. Variations in font size emphasize actions and sounds-verbs such as "stalk," "shakes," and "bugs" are increased slightly as compared to the rest of the text, and the final "SNAP!" and "DOUBLE TROUBLE!" are extra large. Animals display a great range of expressions, from sleepy storks, to grumpy hippos, to very sly crocodiles. The juxtaposition of a roaring hippo with an extremely startled Solomon is priceless. Sedately pastel backgrounds allow the speckled crocodile to pop, creating a contrast with the sleepiness of the river setting. Sharp zigzags of the crocodiles' teeth and back are reminiscent of the creature from Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile (Knopf, 1978), but are full of mischief instead of malice. The brevity of this story lends itself to a young audience, but would not preclude older kids enjoying it as well.-Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Sure to make toddlers chortle with glee. * Books For Keeps *