What Does Little Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari

Review by Gabrielle Tselos

Tundra Books, June 15th, 2021

40 pages, Soft Cover, $21.99 CAD, 9780735268135

Ages 2-5 years

Picture Book, Fiction

“Big crocodile says peek a boo! And what does the little crocodile say? MUAH, MUAH, MUAH, MUAH, MUAH, MUAH”

The first day of school can be difficult for everyone: kids, parents, and even crocodiles! What Does Little Crocodile Say? depicts a young crocodile who is experiencing his first day of preschool and all the sounds that go along with it. He experiences what his classmates—other animals—say, what the sounds of the alarm clock are, and much more. This book uses sounds to teach children onomatopoeias and develop their language skills, while also creating an effortless approach for young ones to understand their big feelings when going off to school for the first time.

The book acts as a useful tool to teach children about how their day may look on a schedule, with snack time, nap time, and story time included. This can be important for young children to make sure they feel prepared for what is to come, helping to reduce stress and make the day easier while they are away from their guardians. The end of the book shows the embrace when little crocodile is reunited with his father, a wholesome moment reminding kids that their guardian always returns to get them after their day at school.

The illustrations imitate a colouring book with crayon-looking lines that Montanari draws with chalk, oil, pencil, and acrylic. In a way, this style mimics what a child might draw—another way this book prepares them for their upcoming school days. Despite this design being on the simpler side, it is very colourful and not too distracting, making it easy for kids to be able to match the sounds up with the objects in the pictures.

I think the choice to use different animals as representations of the children who look and speak differently from little crocodile is an important lesson for younger audiences to connect with. Little crocodile’s introduction to different animals shows young readers that everyone is nervous and handles their nerves differently. It also asserts that everyone—no matter who they are, how they speak, or how they look—is welcome at school.

Full of fun phrases and adorable illustrations, What Does Little Crocodile Say? is a fantastic picture book with so many valuable lessons to offer young readers. If you’re looking for a sweet, simple story to get your child ready for preschool—especially if they are feeling anxious about what to expect—this is definitely the book to add to your library.

Gabrielle Tselos is a UBC student, from Saint Paul, Minnesota. In her free time, she enjoys writing, photography, and baking delicious treats for her friends and family.

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