The wolf was very nearly driven to extinction through hunting. I can’t help but wonder if children’s literature has a role to play in portraying wolves as “bad guys.” Thankfully, due to human intervention including breeding programs and reintroduction programs, the wolf is making a comeback.
So, I wondered how crocodiles were portrayed in children’s books and if there is a balanced view of crocodiles. Are they “good guys” or “bad guys”, tricksters, foes or friends? But one thing is for sure, they have been around for a very long time.
Crocodiles , including the rest of Crocodylomorpha, have been around for at least 225 million years, survived multiple mass extinctions, but today, due to habitat destruction and poaching, many species are at the risk of extinction, some being classified as critically endangered.
The news isn’t great for crocodiles. After surviving 225 million years, many species are in danger of extinction. And it seems that we and our children will determine if these hardy genetic marvels will survive or die out. In honor of the crocodile, let’s examine how they are portrayed in children’s books, and let’s hope there are enough warm fuzzy ones to inspire some kids out there into saving them.
10. Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber
Let’s start with a beloved and extremely popular crocodile, Lyle. Thankfully, he has won the hearts of all he meets near his home on East 88th street including the Primm family who found him soaking in their bathtub. Lyle is portrayed as a polite and helpful crocodile with a gentle disposition that challenges the reader to get to know crocodiles before judging them. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
9. The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl makes it clear that it’s singularly the Enormous Crocodile who is tricky, nasty, and hungry for children. The Notsobig One tries to dissuade the Enormous Crocodile telling it that children are bitter, tough, and chewy but the Enormous Crocodile would have none of that. He (or she) is a rude croc too, biting Trunky the Elephant and trying to eat Muggle-Wump the Monkey as well as several other animals in the forest.
The message here is that rude crocodiles get what they deserve which is to say that they ended up crashing headfirst in the hot hot sun whereupon they sizzle up like a sausage. [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]
Here’s another review from Stacking Books.
8. Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree… by Eileen Christelow
Monkeys versus crocodiles? Is the monkey common prey for the crocodile? First, the Enormous Crocodile tries to eat Muggle-Wump the Monkey and now the five little monkeys are in danger though they really are not supposed to be playing in the tree! If only they minded their mother! [picture book, ages 1 and up]
Crocodiles eat fish, amphibians, birds and mammals such as monkeys, pigs and deer. Due to their strength crocodiles have no predators. Nevertheless, their eggs and hatchings are preyed on by various animals including baboons, marabou storks, hone badgers, white tailed mongooses and other carnivores and omnivores.
To debunk any myths, I looked it up. Yes, crocodiles do eat monkeys but here’s an interesting twist. Monkeys eat crocodile eggs and hatchlings!
7. Guji Gujiby Chih-Yuan Chen
Speaking of eggs and crocodiles, Guji Guji is a delightful picture book about a mix-up — The Ugly Duckling style! But in this case, the crocodile named Guji Guji has no body image problems. But when asked to serve up his duck family to a trio of bad crocodiles who inform Guji Guji that ducks are their natural prey, he has his own idea of what to do. Here the crocodile is shown to have a conscience with creative problem-solving skills. This is also a book about acceptance and tolerance for those who are different. I like that message a lot! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
6. Catch That Crocodile! by Anushka Ravishankar
A simple story about a crocodile who shows up unexpectedly in a village. Only little Meena knows what to do. The illustrations are two color block prints that give this picture book its quirky appeal. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
5. What Time Is It, Mr. Crocodile?by Judy Sierra
Monkeys versus crocodiles again. Honestly, I would have thought that the monkey with its quickness and climbing ability would be the toughest prey for the crocodile to go after. Nevertheless, notice a theme with these crocodile books? Maybe it’s because they are natural adversaries, both with cunning? Or the monkey is the closest animal to humans who are also natural prey for the croc. (You’ve seen Crocodile Dundee, haven’t you? I rest my case.)
Sorry, I digress. What Time is It, Mr. Crocodile is a wonderful rhyming picture book that teaches telling TIME! Mr. Crocodile has a busy schedule and while cooking monkeys is his 4:00 task, he finds they are much harder to catch than he thought. Instead, Mr. Crocodile is dissuaded from eating monkeys to playing with them. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
4. Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator! by Mo Willems
Amanda’s alligator is stuffed and they have a very sweet friendship full of surprises. Amanda reads to her alligator and he surprises her by sometimes eating her books. But there are more surprises and it turns out that reading will ensure her alligator will never be bored again.
If anyone can convince you to befriend an alligator, it would be Amanda in this book! Even if the alligator is stuffed! [easy chapter book, ages 4 and up]
3. An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
Do crocodile eggs get mixed up frequently? They seem to be in children’s books! Lionni’s tale features three frogs on Pebble Island who discover an egg and decide it must be a chicken egg even though they’ve never seen one. When the egg hatches and a long green thing emerges, they naturally call it a chicken. Mistaken identity has never been so funny! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
2. Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nick Bromley
This clever picture book features a crocodile who has fallen into this book and is eating his favorite letters “O’s” and “S’s”. The poor croc is just trying to get out the book and the ugly duckling isn’t helping! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
1. The Fantastic Mr. Wani by Kanako Usui
Mr. Wani the crocodile is a kind of Mr. Magoo in this charming picture book. As he rushes about to make the party, he causes all kinds of havoc. The mice come up with a good idea of using balloons to speed up his travel but that doesn’t seem to work out. He helps the penguins out after accidentally destroying their sled by becoming their sled, but it’s a pretty tough landing. This silly and fun picture book gets my vote because the crocodile is not subjected to stereotyping. He’s just a goof trying his best not to be tardy for the party! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Here are a few more alligator and crocodile books for kids. What did I leave out? Please add your suggestion!
There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
The nightmare’s gone, but what about that alligator? You have to be so careful getting in and out of bed! Maybe a midnight snack to lure him into the garage will do the trick. In this funny and beloved follow-up, Mercer Mayer faces another nighttime fear head-on. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Flap Your Wings by P. D. Eastman
Another egg mix-up!
When a strange egg appears in their nest, Mr. and Mrs. Bird kindly take it upon themselves to raise the “baby bird” inside. But when the egg hatches, the Birds are in for a big surprise–“Junior” is the oddest-looking baby bird they’ve ever seen–with big, long jaws full of teeth and an appetite to match. In fact, he looks more like a baby alligator than a baby bird! Nevertheless, the devoted Birds run themselves ragged feeding Junior until he gets so big, he must leave the nest or it will collapse underneath him. But how can Junior fly without wings? To the delight of the Birds–and readers!–the dilemma is solved when Junior takes off from a branch overlooking a pond. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Great Crocodile Picture Book Recommendations from Readers!
Thank you to Catherine of Story Snug for this great recommendation. Her review is here.
Have You Seen the Crocodile? by Colin West
Thank you to Cathy of Bildebok.
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
With perfect comic pacing, Greg Pizzoli introduces us to one funny crocodile who has one big fear: swallowing a watermelon seed. What will he do when his greatest fear is realized? Will vines sprout out his ears? Will his skin turn pink? This crocodile has a wild imagination that kids will love.
Thank you to Kris of Over There to Here for her great suggestion!
Crocky Dilly by Philomen Sturges
Crocky Dilly tells the story of her famous relative who rescued Menes, the King of Egypt, and was rewarded by being named queen of her own city, Crocodilopolis.
Kate Coombs tweeted me this great suggestion!
I’d Really Like to Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio
A scrawny little crocodile wants the opportunity to bite off more than he can chew. He’s tired of bananas; today he’d like to eat a child. But he’s smaller than he thinks, and the little girl he chooses for his first meal puts him in his place—she picks him up and tickles his tummy! The little crocodile is going to have to eat a lot of bananas and grow a lot bigger before he can add children to his menu! Simple yet hilarious artwork brings this droll story to life.
Kriss from Over There to Here had a great suggestion on Google +, Tick Tock the crocodile from Peter Pan!
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Erica from What Do We Do All Day? said her favorite book is
Snip Snap!: What’s That? by Mara Bergman
CultureBaby says, “We really like The Selfish Crocodile for toddlers. All about a croc who hogs the river until he gets a toothache and a little mouse helps him, and he sees the value of sharing and friendship.”
The Selfish Crocodile by Faustin Charles
p.s. Related posts:
Book Lists Around a Particular Animal
5 Picture Books Around Pet Adoption
Top 10: Best Dragon Children’s Books
Top 10: Favorite Duck Picture Books
Hamsters and Guinea Pigs in Early Chapter Books
10 Hilarious Cat and Dog Picture Books
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
25 thoughts on “Top 10 Crocodile Books for Kids”
I’m so glad you included Lyle, Lyle Crocodile as it’s a hit with my children (and me) – and as you say does give a different perspective on crocodiles. I recently read them the children’s picturebook ‘Crocky Dilly’ (1998) by Philemon Sturges which fascinated them as the story explains how crocodiles were considered sacred and even worshipped by Ancient Egyptians.
Thanks so much for your wonderful book recommendation! I’m adding it to the list! What a great point that crocodiles were considered sacred by Ancient Egyptians! (Even though crocodiles were a threat to them as predators!)
Guji Guji seems like a fun book to read and it got great reviews by readers on Amazon.
I really did enjoy Guji Guji! Even the name is fun to say!!
I have naughty and nice alligators in my Everglades collection. I’d love to read these stories about good ones. It’s sad if the make believe world has a negative impact on the real world. Happy Christmas Mia!
Thanks so much for your book recommendation! Adding it to my list! It is sad that how we perceive animals affects how we treat them and that can come from our childhood through books. But, it can be a positive outcome as well!
Must pop in to add the hilarious and handsome “The Watermelon Seed” by Greg Pizzoli. I’d say he falls clearly on the “good guy” side of the equation. It’s a fun summer or food-related read!
Thanks so much Cathy! I don’t know that picture book and am adding it to the list!!!
! would also add ‘Have you Seen the Crocodile?’ by Colin West. It has a very ambiguous ending so depending on your interpretation the crocodile can be naughty or nice!
Thanks for your great book rec! No, haven’t read it so am adding it to the list. I will try to find a link on your blog as well. I’m hoping you reviewed it!
They are scary, so slow then so quick to attack! Awesome theme! We have read several of these. Really would like to check out Open Very Carefully. I am starting a library request during my visit to your site (as I often do).
I can see that … slow, slow, and then out of nowhere! Thanks so much for your kind words! I hope your kiddos like Open Very Carefully! Happy Holidays!!
I have but I can’t leave you the link for some reason!
I’ll add the link to the post. Sorry about that. It’s my CommentLuv. It doesn’t allow links because of spammers.
Crocodiles are fascinating animals – really great moms!
That’s a great point! There should be a picture book about crocodiles being great moms instead of losing their eggs or leaving them in other nests! LOL!
Thanks for this! Also, Thanks so much for the reminder. I remember back when I was in college and the plane went down in the Everglades (Jet Blue or an equivalent discount airline that’s not around anymore) and the crocs were eating the dead. Many people filled the public with falsities calling for the destruction of the crocs. Very very sad. Very sad. It’s unfortunate that the plane went down and all those people died, but they were in the habitat of the crocs. They were doing what was instinctual.
I think I made a comment about something similar on that movie where the girl got her arm eaten by the shark – and then the people in the movie killed the shark. I’m still outraged by that scene. It’s heartbreaking that Hollywood would promote such cruelty and instill fear into the hearts of man. When we surf or swim in the ocean, we are invading on their home – their territory. It’s unfortunate when something happens, but it does. They are wild animals who live on instinct to survive.
They are to be protected not feared. UGH.
Okay, off my soapbox. Love Lyle Lyle crocodile!
Have a very happy holiday Mama! I so appreciate everything you do.
That is sad about the crocs in the Everglades being killed for eating the dead. It’s what they are supposed to do. Glad you love Lyle Lyle Crocodile too! He is so very civilized that he brings good will for all crocs! Happy holidays to you too! So happy to have connected with you in 2013!!!
Some great suggestions. We really like The Selfish Crocodile for toddlers. All about a croc who hogs the river until he gets toothache and a little mouse helps him, and he sees the value of sharing and friendship.
Thank you for your great book recommendation! Adding it right now!!!
My kids love What Time is it Mr. Crocodile and Amanda and her Aligator. I love the blunt honestness and silliness of Amanda and her Aligator, and how the characters make such typical silly misunderstandings young children make about trying to repeat surprises, or take things literally, etc.
I’m so happy that your kids like some of the books on the list! I love how there is such a range of types of crocodile picture books! Amanda and Her Aligator is especially sweet! That is a fun one!
I LOVE this list! I’m a little late to the crocodile/alligator party, but I have series to add that my little reluctant reader and I just discovered and are devouring which features an appealing alligator couple who love to try new inventions, perform magic tricks, solve mysteries etc. The first in the series is called “Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green.” We just finished books three and four: “Lucky Days with Mr. and Mrs. Green” and “On the Go with Mr. and Mrs. Green. They are written and illustrated by Keith Baker and published by Harcourt.
Hi Laura S.,
Thanks so much for your great book suggestions!!! I will add them to the list!!!
this list of books is amazing! I’ve read a few of them and they are truly some of the great books I’ve ever come across. Your taste in literature is impressive and I can see that you have put a lot of thought into your selection. Thanks for sharing your recommendations, I’m definitely going to check out the others that I haven’t read yet. Keep up the good work!