- The Crocodile and the Scorpion by Ed Emberley
Long on bite (and sting) but short on brains, the titular crocodile and scorpion make an unlikely and unfortunate pair. When they decide to try their hand at friendship—a relationship unfamiliar to both of them—Scorpion suggests Crocodile transport him across the river. Crocodile has enough smarts to first extract Scorpion’s promise to withhold his sting, and, in return, Scorpion makes Crocodile vow not to bite him. While they promise with the best of intentions, animal instinct soon kicks in, and the duo find themselves furiously debating who broke his promise as they careen to the bottom of the river. Emberleys père et fille immediately and effectively set up the bleak outcome, making it clear that their characters’ flaws will lead to their undoing, and the lighthearted writing lends a sense of humor to the doomed trajectory of the relationship (though only the jacket flap acknowledges the folkloric [End Page 209] origin of the story). The illustrations, highly saturated full-bleed spreads, employ intense color and bold composition in mosaic-like cut paper; the art is unusually flat for that dimensional medium, though, and the scenes are compositionally muddy at times. The images are somewhat more effective when viewed at a distance—and thus suitable for storytimes, where young participants may enjoy predicting the inevitable catastrophe of Crocodile and Scorpion’s ill-fated pairing.