Friday, March 15, 2013

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

Rating: 4 stars

I'm sure everyone here knows about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.  But Roald Dahl also has a handful of shorter novels with the same wicked sense of humor, same lessons tucked into a good story, same fabulous drawings by Quentin Blake.  The length and content definitely make these books better for the 4 and over crowd, in my opinion, and I suggest reading them first or reading them with your child.

But, wait, I must issue a warning!  These books are not for every family out there!  Here's why:

  • Most of them involve words like "stupidest" and "shut up" and "ugly."
  • Many of them involve some desire to kill an animal, usually with the use of a gun.
  • Most plots have the kids--human or animal--in peril.
  • A few characters, including the crocodile, die.  (But their deaths always dramatic and funny in a dark sort of way...the crocodile gets whipped around and around by the elephant, thrown up into galaxy and crashes headfirst into the hot, hot sun.  He was "sizzled up like a sausage!")

A little funny?
Hmmm.  As I wrote my little warning, I'm wondering...  Who is going to want to read this book?!  What good stuff does it have in it?!  Why did I just give it a 4 star rating?!

So let me answer my own questions, even though I'm generally better at asking than answering things in this life of mine.

Here's why you might want to read this book:

  • The enormous crocodile aims to eat some nice, juicy little children.  But the other animals in the jungle want to save the children, so they, one at a time, stand up to the mean crocodile.  See?  Good vs Evil, and good wins!  Especially at the end, but I'll get to that.
  • Kids like funny stories.  I mean, at least mine do.  And the enormous crocodile has some good ideas on how to trick little children to come towards him so he can gobble them up.  He stands on the tip of his tail to look like a palm tree, makes himself stiff as a board and then puts his belly on a log to look like a get the idea.  That is FUNNY STUFF!
  • Funnier?
  • This book has the oh-I-know-what's-going-to-happen quality that gets kids excited to listen hard and guess what crazy trick the crocodile is going to pull next.  And when they know the crocodile is disguised and ready to gobble up a little kid, Ben likes to yell at the kids, "Look out!  It's a crocodile!!"

So you decide.  Is the book for you?  Let me know what you think...

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