The term “crocodile tears” explained in a fanciful illustrated story.
As a design object, the physical book package is perfection. A sturdy, small box (10.5 by 3.5 by 0.5) is printed to look like an airmail letter, and as readers will discover when they get into the story, it also represents the ideal box in which to catch a crocodile. Which in fact it has—as the book itself, which snuggles inside the box, has a whimsical crocodile printed on the cover. François’ (one of the pre-eminent graphic designers/cartoonists of the 20th century) masterful, waggish drawings in a simple but striking three-color palette (orange, green, and black) are printed on each recto page, with the text on the verso. The book’s long binding boards are very thick and snap shut, like a crocodile’s jaws. If only the story were perfection as well. With acknowledgement of the tale’s whimsy and gentle societal satire, the casual assumption that humans can capture a young crocodile—and even note that “its mother is very sad”—and ship it in a box to a human home (all people shown as white) for the humans’ amusement is not as acceptable a premise as it may have been in 1955, when the book was first published (to great acclaim).
It’s a gorgeous physical book, but perhaps it’s best for adult collectors rather than children. (Picture book. 5-adult)