Frizzy-haired, knobby-kneed Ruskin Splinter, age nine, believes himself eminently suited to play the lead--a hero capable of slaying dragons--in St. George's school play. The teacher, however, fearing repercussions, gives the part to the Lizard Street bully, Elvis, who regularly terrorizes the neighbors and goes unpunished; Ruskin's mother says only ""pollywolly-doodle-all-the-day,"" while his father's lines are ""It's not my fault"" and ""Don't interfere."" But when Ruskin takes on a toast-eating crocodile found in the sewer, others begin to see him as the noble soul he truly is; even Elvis becomes docile. With tongue in cheek, Ridley pens this light comedy from a distinctly half-pint point-of-view: all the adults but one are completely ineffectual, while only a child can right long-standing wrongs. Blithe and quick, the book could be accused of offering simplistic solutions to problems like unemployment and bullies, as well as crocodile fighting; humor, clearly, would be its winning defense.