Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Enormous Crocodile

The Enormous Crocodile is one of Roald Dahl's books for younger readers, published in 1978. Not quite a picture book, a bit too wordy for that, but not like some of his longer stories for older children like James and the Giant Peach or The BFG.

The Enormous Crocodile lives in the "biggest brownest muddiest river in Africa". He's very hungry this day and decides to try and have some children for his lunch. He's tried going into town before to eat children, but he's so "enormous and ugly" that everyone saw him coming and ran away. So, this time he's more prepared and has "secret plans and clever tricks". 

I didn't think that The Enormous Crocodile was ever going to be one of my favourite Dahl books, but it's really growing on me. I'd listened to Stephen Fry read the story before, but not read the actual book. In the last week or so I've read the book a couple of times, and borrowed an audiobook from my library with Roald Dahl reading the story. 

So Roald has been reading to me as I drive around town this week. The story only lasts about 17 minutes, so I've heard it several times now. And perhaps as young children do with repetition, I'm growing to love it more and more. 

I really like Quentin Blake's illustrations for this one. I'm not sure whether it's that they're colour here- his illustrations for the longer books are most often printed in black and white of course, or the expression that he does get into our Enormous Crocodile that does it.

There is lovely Dahl word play of course. Grumptious. Gollop. Squashed. Squished. Squizzled. And discussions between crocodiles about whether children are tasty or not. 

"Children are too tough and chewy. They are tough and chewy and nasty and bitter."
"Tough and chewy!" cried the Enormous Crocodile. "Nasty and bitter! What awful tommy-rot you talk! They are juicy and yummy!"

The Enormous Crocodile tries his secret plans and clever tricks to lure the children within eating range, disguising himself as a coconut tree, a ride on a carousel and a see-saw. It's almost like a book form of a pantomime- "look behind you!". It's a classic good vs evil battle, with the classic good vs evil ending. 



Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I have this one in my library. Bet I can find someone this week to give it a try. Such a clever book.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read The Enormous Crocodile yet, but Dahl is a master at humor and morals. I also enjoy Quentin Blake's illustrations. The eyes are on the crocodile are delightfully delicious.