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Crocodile Beat
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PreS-Gr 1-- The first verse sets the scene for this simple, original animal tale told in syncopated couplets, followed by a line of rhythmic animal sounds: ``Down by the river in the heat of the day/ the crocodile sleeps and awaits his prey./ Zzzzzz Zzzzzz Zzzzzz Zzzzzz.'' While the crocodile naps, a spirited troop of King Lion's animal friends come to dance at the river's edge. They wake up Croc and, with appetite aroused, he is just about to devour Lion's helpless subjects when the crafty King substitutes his bright red throne for Croc's intended midday meal. Backgrounds of pure white or broad bands of color set off the strikingly textured tissue collages which glow with stained-glass translucency. The lively naturalistic portrayal of elephants, monkeys, bear, etc. is well suited to the bold graphic layouts of the full-color double-page spreads. In spite of the fact that one or two of the rhymes are ill-chosen, as if inspired by a rhyming dictionary, overall the text is straightforward and clear. A potentially successful read-aloud, the story requires a reader who can get into the jazzlike beat of the strongly rhythmic verses. The animal sound effects offer a chance for story-hour listeners to join in the telling of the tale. Because the book's strongest element is its illustration, very young children undoubtedly will delight in naming the familiar animals appealingly pictured on its pages. --Carey Ayres, Port Washington Public Library, NY

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