Microreview: The Gift of the Crocodile, retold by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Reynold Ruffins

The Gift of the Crocodile is a tale from Indonesia’s Spice Islands, retold by Judy Sierra and illustrated in vivid colour by Reynold Ruffins.

Why I like this book:

  • It’s a fairy (folk?) tale!
  • Damura, our protagonist, is more complicated than the standard Disney-type fare — no surprise there, as she is a folk tale hero
  • Damura makes mistakes as well as wise and compassionate choices
  • Damura’s espressions. Particularly in the scene where she sings to a baby crocodile. The song is perfect for reading aloud: just short enough to make improvising a tune easy; just long enough to tantalize the audience.
  • Grandmother Crocodile. I can hear her elderly voice, both cracked and sturdy and altogether authoritative.
  • The subtle echoes back to Damura’s dead mother. It is Grandmother Crocodile who gives Damura clothes and a carriage, and it is the dance steps Damura’s mother had taught her that entrance the prince.
  • The illustrations are vibrant with colour and life. The final page is so lovely. I hope the original is on the wall of a library somewhere, or in a gallery.