Review: The Good Ship Crocodile by J. Patrick Lewis

good ship crocodile

The Good Ship Crocodile by J. Patrick Lewis and Monique Felix

Snout was a crocodile who lived on a river.  During the rainy season, the water level would rise and other animals would get into trouble.  The fireflies could not fly in the falling rain, so they asked Snout to carry them to the other side of the river.  Across they went, riding on his back and even in his mouth.  Day after day, Snout carried animals across the river to safety.  Finally, when the sun came out again, Snout realized that he could no longer see his home because he had drifted far downstream.  Now it was Snout’s turn to ask the other animals for help returning to his home.

Lewis served as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011-2013 and in this picture book, you can see his skill with words on every page.   Lewis creates an entire world here, including an unusually kind crocodile.  His words are so simple and uncomplicated, yet they create a sturdy structure for the story.  He doesn’t offer rationalizations for why this crocodile is so kind, but clearly shows that doing kindness for others will inspire them to do it for you when you need it most.

The illustrations in this book are breathtaking.  Felix creates a crocodile that looks wonderfully real, particularly in the very close up images.  As the crocodile takes different animals across the river, the text goes silent, allowing time for the reader to mentally make the journey too.  It also builds a great tension where readers will wonder if he will snap his jaws shut at any moment. 

Beautifully told and illustrated, this is a strong addition to any story time on crocodiles or kindness.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.