There are plenty of picturebooks on the market that address the anxieties of little ones embarking on their first day of nursery. What sets What Does the Crocodile Say? apart from others is its focus on the sounds and noises that provide the backdrop to this momentous day.
From the ‘Dringg Dringg’ of the alarm clock, to the ‘Mwah Mwah’ of Little Crocodile’s kisses for Mummy at pick-up time, every moment is expressed through simple sounds. Some will be familiar to children, but Montanari also throws in less obvious noises that will surprise readers as they turn the page. It’s a book that plays with language in a fun way, lending itself perfectly to being read aloud in a group with lots of actions, or equally read calmly at bedtime as little ones think about their own day ahead at nursery.
Montanari’s childish, pencil drawings cleverly capture the character of Little Crocodile and his nursery friends. The muted tones and use of white space give a sparse feeling to some pages, but it does let the fun scenes of play and expressions of emotion take centre stage. The full double-page spread of crocodile and friends taking a nap is a particular delight!
Although the transformation from big tears to big smiles may not be that quick for every child starting nursery, this book offers reassurance; nursery is a place for stories and music, playtime and snacks with friends. And at the end of the day, the door will knock and Mummy (or Daddy, Granny or Grandad) is always there to scoop you up and take you home.