A huge crocodile and a tiny knight in pointy-visored armor bond—but, as might be expected, there are difficulties.
Vision plainly impaired despite spectacles, the crocodile mistakes the beak-helmed knight for an abandoned baby croc and lavishes it with TLC (“As I recall, babies like warm baths. Into the water you go!”). By the time the error is corrected, multiple comical mishaps later, the two have become close. But it’s a nuanced relationship, as, switching narrator duties back and forth, the knight also thinks about how slaying the monster would make him a hero, and the toothy predator, about how easy it would be to gobble the lad up. Ultimately mutual anxieties outweigh affection, and the two agree to hug and go their separate ways. Using lots of short, crosshatched pen strokes to give the illustrations an air of loose spontaneity, Dorémus exaggerates the size differential between the two figures for extra comic effect and leaves the knight’s visor open a little from the outset so that viewers can see the lad inside. The art’s informality is reflected in the hand-lettered, all-dialogue narrative: “Shoot, maybe babies don’t know how to swim.” The illustrations do not shy away from the occasionally violent nature of the crocodile’s diet.
A tender episode, if an odd one. (Picture book. 6-8)