04 July 2010

For The Love of Crocs

Alligators and crocodiles are rather popular at our house. The first stuffed animal that Matt or I bought for Isaac was an alligator from the NC Zoo. Isaac's bathroom is decorated with alligators, including a poster from the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. And in the fall, it is orange and blue and Gators every weekend. So, when I see a book about gators or crocs that looks pretty good, I tend to buy it or check it out of the library. Isaac is starting to have quite a collection.

When I saw Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen for sale at a conference last fall I paid for it without reading it. It is a book from Taiwan published by Kane Miller, so I was confident that it would be worth having. Then when we read it for the first time, the value of my purchase was confirmed. It is a (very) loose retelling of The Ugly Duckling, with a rather cut throat ending.

Guji Guji is a croc who is raised by ducks. He walks like a duck, talks like a duck, but isn't quite a duck. No one seems to notice until Guji Guji meets up with a band of bloodthirsty crocodiles who try to convince him to serve up his family for dinner. Guji Guji, who would prefer to be a sweet ugly duck than a fear-invoking crocodile, gets the better of them in the end and continues his peaceful life as a "crocoduck."

Like I said, a (very) loose retelling of The Ugly Duckling. This book is funny and affirming for children who may feel like they don't quite fit in. And there is just enough suspense and bloodlust to satisfy an alligator/crocodile loving little boy.

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