It’s all about the squabble in this odd variation on a fable that usually, to clearer purpose, pairs a suicidal scorpion with either a hard-shelled turtle or a vulnerable frog.
The narration begins by strenuously emphasizing the stupidity of both creatures—the crocodile’s “brain was very small,” the scorpion’s “stinger was very sharp, but his mind was not,” and then again: “They both had brains no bigger than a pebble.” The tale puts the scorpion upon the crocodile’s back for a river crossing after a mutual promise to refrain from stinging or biting. The scorpion can’t restrain himself, though. This leads to a splashy battle and mutual recriminations that stretch on for four spreads, after which both sink to the bottom, where, instead of dying, “you can hear them arguing still…that is if someone has not settled the argument for them.” With the color contrast among the green croc, the purple scorpion and the blue river dialed up to the max, the spiky cut- and torn-paper collage illustrations practically glow—but the two animals seem to lose track of each other and just float separately through the last several spreads. The authors provide no source note to the original tale.
The usual morals about the consequences of treachery or the inflexibility of innate nature don’t apply here in this uncharacteristically unsatisfying retelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)