PRINCESS CORA AND THE CROCODILE, by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca, Candlewick, March 28, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 4-8)
Whenever Newbery and Caldecott medalists join forces, you know you’re in for a treat. Such is the case with Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca.
At the center of Princess Cora and the Crocodile is the title character, Princess Cora. When the princess was born, her parents rejoiced; their new daughter was perfect. Then her parents realized that one day Princess Cora would become queen. They quickly decided that blue eyes and pink toes would help the princess rule the land and set out to teach and train her.
By the time Princess Cora turns 7, her entire life is dedicated completely to lessons. Everyone needs time off, and Cora is no different. She’s sick of boring lessons, jumping rope in the dungeon gym, and absolutely hates taking three baths a day.
All that training would be better, Cora thinks, if only her parents would get her a dog. When they say no, Princess Cora turns to the only other person she can think of and writes to her fairy godmother for help. But instead of a dog, Princess Cora receives a crocodile — a crocodile who cannot only talk, but one that enjoys mischief, too.
When the crocodile suggests he take Princess Cora’s place so that she can have a day off, Cora is wary, but how much trouble can one crocodile cause anyway?
Princess Cora and the Crocodile is a picture book-storybook hybrid/early chapter book similar in style to Shannon Hale’s Princess in Black. Both books feature princesses not willing to fit the mold. In Princess Cora and the Crocodile, Cora has an outdoor adventure — climbing trees, picking strawberries and getting dirty.
Princess Cora and the Crocodile is great fun for younger readers, and is a bit of a cautionary tale for parents. It’s only after the crocodile pushes them that they realize that perhaps they were over programming Cora’s life.
This delightful story paired with equally charming illustrations will appeal to children who are being read to and learning to read on their own. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my own daughter when she’s old enough.
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