Broader and brighter than Curtos' Biography of an Alligator (1975), this begins with a general description of the crocodilian--a category which includes two kinds of alligators (American and Chinese) and 13 or 14 kinds of crocodiles, plus seven or eight of the less well known caymans and (one ""kind"") the rare Asian gavial. (But ia ""species"" that imposing a word--especially compared with poikilothermic, which Gross does introduce?) The simple text is amply illustrated with snappy black-end-white photos which help to clarify such pesky matters as how to tell the difference between alligators and crocodiles--and which considerably pick up Gross' description of various crocodilians' activities: building nests, emerging from eggs, swimming and walking, ""crunching right through turtle shell,"" living in symbiosis with their bird companions, etc. Gross ends with several reasons why the world still needs this ancient beast. Despite few instances of cute or babyish writing, she generally approaches matters of behavior and physiology in terms that will connect with her young readers; and she knows her crocs well enough to point out where scientists disagree and when certain rules of thumb no longer hold.