In a story about friendship and the dynamics of pretend play, a fearless, amber-skinned girl named Anna and her pragmatic friend Crocodile hatch a plan: to find gold! When Crocodile suggests that such a quest “would be dangerous and difficult,” Anna responds with a confident “Good!” But finding gold requires planning: Anna and Crocodile practice their “secret faces” so no one will know what they are up to and make a hodgepodge treasure map of taped-together drawings (“The gold is in France!” Anna announces after placing an X there). After their attention turns to “sunken gold,” Anna and Crocodile sail into a storm and dive “right into the middle of it,” discovering a trove of gold in a shipwreck. Schwarz (There Are No Cats in This Book) uses an exuberant mix of styles—sketched pencil backgrounds, sweeping watercolor landscapes, and childlike crayon drawings—to create the fertile world of Anna’s imaginings (which Crocodile may or may not be part of). Schwarz is keenly aware of the joy in planning and plotting an adventure, and the banter between her leads offers laughs throughout. Ages 2–5. (Mar.)
As Crocodile tries to explain it and the two make maps and do an undersea dive, the banter is as cleverly constructed as Schwarz’s layered, explosively colorful illustrations.
—The New York Times Book Review
Adventure-seeking red dress-wearing brown girl + amenable crocodile = the perfect ingredients for finding a boatload of treasure. Schwarz throws together a wild imagination, travel, and an unlikely pair of companions to create a fabulously enjoyable and visually rich picture book that will have young readers digging up their backyards and marking the perfect spots.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The amusing rapport between the two cooperative friends is as compelling as the adventure itself, proving that all pursuits are better with a good friend to join in...An unusual and captivating tale that will attract a willing audience.
—School Library Journal
Schwarz is keenly aware of the joy in planning and plotting an adventure, and the banter between her leads offers laughs throughout.
Throughout, Schwarz’s pencil, crayon, and watercolor illustrations adopt a childlike style that suggests the pals are playing pretend (rather than embarking on a fantastic journey). The pictures are at their finest in a pair of wordless spreads at the center of the book that show Anna and Crocodile diving down to a shipwreck. These rich, detailed illustrations stand in contrast with other text-heavy spreads of humorous dialogue between the friends, and they invite careful examination.
—The Horn Book
Anna’s undaunted enthusiasm and the playful, joyful celebration of imagination make this a sheer delight.
How to Find Gold is a treasure. Brown-skinned Anna and green-skinned Crocodile could not be any cuter—and the two are dropped into wonderfully rough pencil, crayon and watercolor backdrops, often quite scribbly and slightly unfinished for effect, but gorgeous, splendidly colorful and bursting with life. German-born, London-dwelling Viviane Schwarz (There Are Cats in This Book) takes a flight of fancy and soars.
—Shelf Awareness for Readers
K-Gr 2—Anna encourages her good buddy Crocodile to embark with her on a dangerous and difficult adventure finding gold. Some of the logical steps they follow to accomplish this challenging feat include mastering a "secret" face, being strong enough to carry the gold (which Anna practices by carrying Crocodile), and drawing a map with an "X" on it. Once they decide to go after sunken instead of buried gold, the duo dive into the sea, find the priceless treasure, and then decide to keep their discovery secret by burying it along with another map. Schwarz creates an imaginative and quirky adventure about two unlikely friends who invent their own kind of fun. Everything make-believe, particularly the underwater escapade, is depicted using vibrant crayon and watercolor illustrations. The subtle pencil drawings of a crude stick house that the two return to makes an effective comparison. The amusing rapport between the two cooperative friends is as compelling as the adventure itself, proving that all pursuits are better with a good friend to join in. Portraying Crocodile as the "rational" advisor of the operation makes the story even more hilarious, particularly when he suggests that Anna practice a secret face like his. Children will easily sense that the thrill of the adventure far outweighs the end result when Anna and Croc hide the gold instead of keeping it. VERDICT An unusual and captivating tale that will attract a willing audience.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY
Adventure-seeking red-dress-wearing brown girl + amenable crocodile = the perfect ingredients for finding a boatload of treasure. Schwarz throws together a wild imagination, travel, and an unlikely pair of companions to create a fabulously enjoyable and visually rich picture book that will have young readers digging up their backyards and marking the perfect spots. Anna, a diminutive, card-playing, and determined little girl, suggests to her reptilian buddy that they "find gold." After planning, sketching, and reading each other's curious facial expressions, Anna and Crocodile set out to do just that. Readers always know where to look, as Anna's red dress and Crocodile's greenness stand out neatly against their black-and-white pencil-sketched background. When the tale becomes a full-blown imaginative adventure, however, mixed-media color spreads across both pages. They sail to the middle of the ocean and dive into its teeming, mysterious depths, and they find that gold. When the pair returns with their booty, color follows them, illustrating the life-changing power of fantastical thinking. Young treasure seekers will want to revisit this tale again and again, and when they do, they will be rewarded by details they missed on earlier readings. As much of a treasure as the gold they find. (Picture book. 3-5)