This lighthearted introduction to the group of reptiles that includes alligators, crocodiles, caimans and gharials presents itself as an instruction book for prospective crocodilian parents.
Third in the Expecting Animal Babies series, this resembles previous titles covering insect and marsupial development. The focus on the lives of animal children makes an immediate connection to readers who are children themselves. Using a question-and-answer format, Heos addresses readers directly in a cheerful second-person narration. She introduces the order, describes where the various families live and lay and guard their eggs, shows fetal development and hatching, then looks at babies’ early lives. She chooses details that will intrigue: a mother carrying her hatchlings down to the water in her mouth, caiman foster moms and, of course, how big they will get. With watercolor, gouache and pen and ink, Jorisch creates humorously personified creatures: a white-coated crocodile doctor, a gharial mom knitting on the beach as she watches her children slide into the water, a caiman family with backpacks and suitcases trudging off to a wetter swamp. Accurate facts, nicely numbered pages, a glossary, and a substantial list of further reading and websites make this toothsome treat useful for reports as well as entertainment.
Both engaging and informative, this is a welcome addition to a kid-pleasing series. (Informational picture book. 6-11)