In this French import, a natty group of animal friends congregates on the back of Fossil the crocodile, engaging in everyday activities while piling on top of one another in various configurations.
Fossil, a long, light-green crocodile wearing a checked shirt, striped pants, and black-and-white spectator shoes, poses peacefully in the first double-page spread. Readers are told that he “loves the quiet.” His tranquility is short-lived, however, as his friends traipse toward him in a slow parade. From Fippo the hippo all the way to Otto the octopus, all of the animals are named and pictured on the endpapers, except for one who shows up on the copyright page. They advance from the left and climb up on Fossil and one another. Meanwhile, the slyly humorous text continues to describe Fossil’s preference for “be[ing] alone. / Away from all the racket and hubbub.” Given the limited, albeit ironically amusing, text and relatively static illustrations, apparently created in pen and ink and colored pencil, the book’s appeal relies on close examination of the pictures’ quirky details. Colors are mostly muted, but pattern abounds, adding interest. The revelation that “Crocodiles are “quick…[and] fierce…even in books!” may inspire a frisson of suspense, but Fossil’s friends (and readers) are quickly reassured.
Tongue-in-cheek humor and stylized illustrations should make this appealing to sophisticated young listeners. (Picture book. 3-7)