While robbing Egypt's mummies, sphinxes, and palm trees, Napoleon can't resist bringing home a souvenir crocodile as well.
All Paris is enchanted with this exotic creature. But for a crocodile with an appetite as big as his ego, being the toast of the town has its downside, too. What's a crocodile who's used to a dinner of flamingo, snake, or mongoose to make of chocolate mousse? Oh, to return to his beloved Nile! But fickle Napoleon has other plans for our hero... Inspired by an obscure nineteenth–century French satire, I, Crocodile is the first book Fred Marcellino has written as well as illustrated.
This first picture book that Marcellino (Puss in Boots) has both written and illustrated is a pi ce de r sistance. According to the witty green narrator of this singular tale, Egypt was a paradise until "(to be precise) August 17, 1799." That day, Napoleon spoils the crocodile's bulrush idyll. Seated on a white steed, the emperor orders his troops, "Mummies! I want mummies!... And a sphinx and an obelisk. Make it a big one." In refined watercolor spreads, Napoleon's soldiers obligingly plunder temples and, as an afterthought, snare the crocodile, too. "What a cruel and abrupt departure from my mudbank," the caged reptile reports from a ship laden with Egyptian booty. The protagonist's irreverent tone serves as a perfect counterbalance for Napoleon's disrespect for Egyptian culture, and the varied use of vignettes, thought balloons and spreads keeps the pacing brisk. In one series of vignettes, Marcellino chronicles the lengthy journey and the creature's near starvation ("Was anyone keeping track of all the meals I was missing?") accompanied by its hyperbolic facial expressions. Upon reaching Paris, the crocodile achieves star status in a spread that conveys a capital worthy of its nickname, the City of Lights. Later, having fallen from favor, the croc escapes to the sewer system and, in comical facing pages, surfaces to snag a high-society lunch (feathered turban and all). Although its plump pickle-shaped body, chubby legs and devastatingly polite manner don't seem threatening, this is one stolen artifact that literally bites back. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.