Genre: Non-European Folktale
Book: Crocodile and Hen
Lexau, Joan M. Crocodile And Hen. Illus. Doug Cushman. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
CLCD, Horn Book Guide: Fall 2001 Rating 3
CLCD, Best Books: Best Children's Books of the Year, 2002; Bank Street College of Education; United State
Crocodile and Hen is about a hen that always goes down by the river to look for food. Day after day hungry Crocodile tells Hen that he is going to eat her. Hen fearlessly says "Brother don't eat me." Crocodile is shocked and he can not bring himself to eat Hen. Every time Hen came down to the waters edge and said this to the Crocodile he left without eating her. Crocodile couldn't understand out how he was Hen's brother and how Hen was his sister so he went to look for help. Finally, Crocodile's friend Lizard told him they all laid eggs and that's how they were brother and sister. From that day on Crocodile did not try to eat Hen.
Lexau based this funny and amusing story on a Bakongo folktale from the Republic of the Congo. I enjoyed this folktale and I think that this book is great to share with young children, because it has a good morals and life lessons behind it. This story teaches children that even though you may appear to be different you can still have things in common. Also, it teaches children to be tolerant of people who may be different from them, and it teaches children not to judge people based on appearance. The story is great for beginning readers, because Lexau uses basic vocabulary, repetition, and simple text that is easy to understand. In addition, the text always appears in white areas with large print, which helps early readers to follow along with the story.
The illustrations by Cushman were simple, yet humorous. The pictures depict expressive animal characters in pen and ink with watercolor. The images showed a yellow-eyed green crocodile and a big white hen on the bank of a blue river. The pictures were effective and went along well with the text without taking away from moral of the story. The images show Crocodile in darker colors to make him seem stronger than Hen. As a future teacher this is a great book to incorporate into the classroom, because it is fun, teaches a lesson, and children will enjoy the animal characters. I recommend this book for children who are 5-9 years old.