Panzieri, Lucia. 2013. THE KINDHEARTED CROCODILE. Ill. by AntonGionata Ferrari. NY: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823427673 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 2]
Readers of this whimsical picture book will find themselves hooked at the first illustration—exploding across two pages with huge jaws, sharp teeth and menacing yellow eyes. The fearsome creature, however, longs for life as a pet in a happy family—despite the fact that families don’t often want pet crocodiles.
This crocodile sneaks into a home through the pages of a picture book—a clever metafiction twist. Events unfold in the fun-filled details of Ferrari’s art. The nocturnal scenes in which the crocodile begins completing chores while the family sleeps are especially engaging. The crocodile hopes to prove his worth as a perfect pet, but when the family discovers that the secret friend is not a fairy, troll, wizard, or elf, the parents become frightened. The children, on the other hand, already know and love the crocodile from their picture book. “We want to keep him,” they cry. And of course, they do.
Follow a reading of this story with a discussion about what makes a perfect pet and possibly what makes a perfect picture book. Encourage children to explain the basis for their opinions.
Other metafiction picture books for young readers:
Ahlberg, Allen. THE PENCIL. 9780763660888
Gravett, Emily. WOLVES. 9781416914914
Johnson, Crocket. HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON. 9780060229368
Wiesner, David. THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. 9780618007011
By Suzy Parchman