Little Croc's purse by Lizzie Finlay
Red Fox, 2010. ISBN 9781862309067.
(Ages 3-7) Highly recommended. If you are in any doubt that crocodiles are actually delightfully appealing creatures then read Little Croc's Purse. This is another triumph from Lizzie Finlay, whose first book Danylion was one of my top books of 2009.
Little Croc discovers a purse full of coins during a game of hide and seek. His friends try to persuade him to keep it as 'no one returns things nowadays'. But Little Croc has plenty of moral fibre and as the story unfolds he manages to resist the temptation to shop, requests from a good cause and sly old Murdock, the bully. He delivers the purse to the police station and Mrs Doolally, the owner reveals the secret of the purse and rewards Little Croc for his honesty. Little Croc is delighted with his reward and decides to spend some, share some and save some, a message which in our debt ridden society it is probably good to start teaching at an early age.
With Finlay's now characteristic combination of artistic styles Little Croc's purse has a fresh and engaging feel. My three year old goddaughter loved the collage roses on Mrs Doolally's hat and we both spent ages poring over the pictures. Each page layout is a perfect balance of text and illustration and there is plenty in this story to delight adults and children alike. I can't help feeling that anyone who can succeed in making a crocodile look vulnerable must be a genius!