A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Professional Crocodile, by Italian duo Giovanna Zoboli and Mariachiara Di Giorgio, is a wordless picture book in which a crocodile wakes up, gets ready for work, and commutes to work at a job that will come as a fun surprise to readers. The art's lovely and carefully observant of human behavior and small, everyday pleasures; for instance, the way folks in an elevator quietly claim their space, read during their crowded commute, and tip their hats to co-workers. Though there's no stated moral, the art encourages us to stop and smell the flowers -- as well as the fragrant scents coming from the food shops along the way -- and savor the everyday pleasures we encounter on our individual journeys.
What's the story?
PROFESSIONAL CROCODILE opens with a picture of Crocodile, clad in PJs and a sleep mask, dreaming of life in the wild. When he wakes up, he embarks upon a series of morning routines familiar to humans, including brushing teeth, breakfasting, choosing a tie, and sitting on the toilet. He leaves for work, rides the subway, and stops in shops to buy a bouquet of flowers and a chicken. He then proceeds to work, where he tosses the bouquet to a woman in the window, enters the locker room to remove his clothes, and steps out to a spa-like pool where his "job" becomes clear.
Is it any good?
This wordless picture book crafted by an Italian writer and illustrator duo is clever, witty, sweet in just the right measure, and brimming with European charm. The story's told in tight, detailed panels that celebrate the small pleasures of waking up and traveling to work each day. There's window-shopping and stops in small specialty shops, where Crocodile buys a pretty bouquet he delivers to someone at work. When he's splashed by a passing car, we see the culprits, a harried mom at the wheel and a kid sticking out his tongue. It's fun that Crocodile wears a tie and sits on the toilet, though he dreams of living in the wild. And though the subway car's crowded with humans, kids will spot the well-dressed giraffe and monkey who are also commuting. There's lots of visual detail to pore over and savor.
Some parents will wonder: Why wordless? How do you even "read" a wordless book? And why not steep kids in rich text when they're smack in the midst of learning language? Though some might wish for just a bit of well-placed text here to match the fun of the art, wordless books can definitely be fodder for language development. Parents and kids can "tell" the story, and talk about all that's happening in the art. And this book has plenty of story, complete with plot and character development. Plus, surprise! Shhh! There's a really fun twist at the end!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the morning routines in Professional Crocodile. What does the crocodile do when he wakes up? What do you do?
Can you find threads of the story that carry through to later pages? What does the crocodile do with the flowers he buys? What does he do with the chicken?
Why do you think the author chose to tell this story without any words? If you were going to tell this story, what words would you use?
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