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The Crocodile Blues

The Crocodile Blues

5.0 1
by Coleman Polhemus

A quirky mystery featuring jazzy artwork and intriguing gatefolds! This near-wordless story is so much fun that you’ll be improvising aloud as the plot unfolds.

It begins with an egg (no ordinary egg) and an unsuspecting fellow. And then with a CRACK — and a furtive peek in the fridge — this offbeat story is off and running! Before we


A quirky mystery featuring jazzy artwork and intriguing gatefolds! This near-wordless story is so much fun that you’ll be improvising aloud as the plot unfolds.

It begins with an egg (no ordinary egg) and an unsuspecting fellow. And then with a CRACK — and a furtive peek in the fridge — this offbeat story is off and running! Before we know it, our hero is hiding under the bed. Next he is fleeing out the door and setting himself up in some safe new digs, until — swoosh — a strange invitation arrives. Both humorously retro and wholly original, with very few words and plenty of double takes, THE CROCODILE BLUES is a book with creative bite that will leave readers anything but blue.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Jazzy stencil shapes and five droll gatefolds lend novelty to this near-wordless story that features a mysterious croc. The pleasant but undistinguished plot is the machinery for the main attraction, Polhemus's (Daemon Hall) high-contrast, silkscreen-style digital imagery, in saturated shades of gray, royal blue and electric yellow on white. First, readers meet a silhouetted man and his pet cockatoo, strolling home with a grocery basket. The man's loose, swingy limbs and jaunty fedora imply carefree existence. Then, on a white wall, the man and bird notice a sign, "Eggs." One square page unfolds into three panels as the man approaches an ovoid vending machine and inserts a coin. Holding a single egg, he sashays on his way, a trail of musical notes implying the cockatoo's cheerful whistle. That night, awakened by an onomatopoeic "crack crack crack crack," the characters discover eggshells on the kitchen floor and a grinning crocodile in their fridge. Their wide eyes glow against the midnight colors, and they exchange a meaningful glance before exiting their apartment. Later, they receive an invitation to the building, now the chic Blue Crocodile nightclub. Unlike some wordless artists (e.g., Mitsumasa Anno), Polhemus produces a unilayered story, and a few readings may exhaust the linear narrative. But admirers of Richard McGuire's Night Becomes Daywill see a similar aesthetic at work in Polhemus's sleek digital designs, and reward them with a lengthier look. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
This wordless adventure of a man and his pet cockatoo is told with only a few labels and sound effects, visually in silhouettes with flat application of blue and yellow to the basic black, white, and gray, all done digitally. Alternate pages add dimension with fold-outs or fold-ups to extend the action. We follow the pair as they bring an egg to their apartment and put it in the refrigerator. In bed, they are awakened by loud cracking noises. Investigating in the kitchen by flashlight they discover a hatched crocodile. Fearful, they run away and rent another room, but then they receive an invitation from the crocodile to a party in their old apartment, and quite a party it is, requiring unfolding the page twice to encompass it. The climax is the croc’s unveiling, with a “Ta-da!” another egg ready to crack open. This is a silly story, perhaps, but visually intriguing and full of fun. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2 This nearly wordless picture book starts with a man with a parrot on his head buying a strange egg and putting it in the refrigerator. In the middle of the night, they hear a loud "Crack" and find that a crocodile has hatched. They depart ("Zoom!"), leaving the crocodile in residence. The creature turns the place into a nightclub, invites the man back, and presents him with another egg. Youngsters will laugh at both the story line and the characters depicted in this zany book. The simple royal blue and black silhouettes capture the feeling of a dark night, and the bright yellow of the daylight offers a realistic contrast. The digitally produced spreads are cartoonish and expressive. Polhemus captures surprise and fear by changing the placement or shape of the man's eyes, which are depicted simply as black circles within white ones. The few sound-effect words in the pictures help to enhance the flow of the story. The occasional foldout that shows the height of the building or reveals a surprise turn in the tale might pose a problem for some collections, but the paper is sturdy. Blues is an accessible, fun read that lends itself to groups, one-on-one, and solitary perusal.-Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Digitally generated silhouette art in heavily saturated hues gives this nearly wordless tale spectacular visual punch and, like the plot, has a free-range, improvisational air. When the small egg that they've brought home hatches in the night into a full-sized crocodile, a gent and his cockatoo flee into the street, then find a new apartment. Receiving a printed invitation, however, they go back-to discover that the croc, actually a friendly sort, has converted their town house into a nightclub that proudly serves-"Ta-Da!"-soft-boiled eggs. It works better in the viewing, as each page turn reveals a hilarious twist or surprise that is conveyed, as often as not, on a lateral, double or rising gatefold. A bright and breathless outing for which children will happily supply their own commentary. (Picture book. 5-7)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.16(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Coleman Polhemus, who says he can’t remember a time when he didn’t draw, has worked in commercial illustration and produced fine art in a variety of media. Born in Alabama, he currently lives in Australia.

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Crocodile Blues 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most intriguing children's books I have ever encountered. My 2 year old son adores the quirky, entirely original story line. The artwork is extremely clever. This book has been an absolute joy to read over and over again. This is money well spent, either to place on your own bookshelf or to give as a gift. I wish there were more like it!