Rating: **** 4 stars
Anushka Ravishankar, illustrated by Pulak Biswas,
Catch that Crocodile!
Tara Publishing .
A crocodile appears in the centre of town - no one's sure how it's got there but it needs to be caught and returned to the river. Easier said than done, as various high profile people of the town find out. The crocodile outsmarts first the policeman and then the doctor. As for the well-known wrestler, his encounter with the crocodile renders him completely ineffectual:
'Is this the famous Man of Iron/ Known to have elephants/ Walk on his belly?/ Is this the Hero/ With biceps of rock? / Or is this a new brand / Of shivering jelly?'
then along comes Meena, a little girl with her basket of fish to sell. She hears all the commotion about a 'wicked' reptile but all she sees is a 'lost crocodile' so she asks everyone to let her through - she thinks she knows what to do (much to the crowd's disbelief, of course). She lays a trail of fish from her basket:
'Meena's plan was really quite clever/ The crocodile ate its way to the river!'
A relatively simple story told in quite fun verse and unusual illustrations which evoke woodcut or lino prints. The colour combination is dramatic as the black and green illustrations appear on a slightly mottled pale yellow background colour. Some playful use of typography adds to the overall effect of drama. I like its quirkiness.
May 2008 , No. 170
Guide to the rating system:
***** 5 stars, unmissable
**** 4 stars, very good
*** 3 stars, good
** 2 stars, fair
* 1 star, poor