PRINCESS CORA AND THE CROCODILE, by Laura Amy Schlitz
A Publishers Weekly Most-Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2017 selection
A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an overscheduled princess a day off — and a deliciously wicked crocodile a day on.
Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile — a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.
Booklist (starred review):
"Princess Cora leads a well-ordered life, with three daily baths, dull books to study, and a skipping rope for supervised exercise. After her royal parents refuse to give her a dog, her fairy godmother sends a talking crocodile instead. Alarmingly fierce-looking, but potentially an ally if fairy godmothers can be trusted, the crocodile appears to be the worst pet imaginable, but he’s exactly what the princess needs. She takes a day off to run outside and play while the croc, dressed in her pink dress, upends her usual routine. By the day’s end, when Cora speaks up for herself, her frazzled parents are ready to listen. An accomplished storyteller who knows her audience, Schlitz offers an original tale that seamlessly combines reality, magic, and wit. Floca’s expressive pencil, watercolor, and gouache artwork perfectly captures the characters, from the well-intentioned but unreflective parents to the muscular, wild-eyed crocodile, who looks particularly ludicrous and cagey when wearing Cora’s dress and petticoats. With fairly large type, ample white space, and lively, colorful illustrations on nearly every page, this early chapter book is beautifully designed for newly independent readers. For younger children, it’s a memorable choice for reading aloud in the home or classroom. Either way, it’s great fun." —Carolyn Phelan
School Library Journal (starred review):
"Little Cora is an old-fashioned princess with a decidedly contemporary problem: her well-meaning parents have overscheduled her with improving experiences, and she just wants a day off. Failing at her less than assertive attempts to convince the adults of her castle to give her a break, she calls on her fairy godmother for assistance. The help comes in the form of a gigantic crocodile who dons Cora’s frilly pink dress and takes her place in the princess’s daily routine of excessive bath taking, spreadsheet review, and calisthenics in the dungeon-turned-gym. Schlitz’s narrative is incredibly entertaining, with chapters that alternate between chaos at the castle and Cora’s meandering day in the woods and pastures. Featuring Floca’s hysterical full-color artwork, the book is laugh-out-loud funny. The crocodile’s expressive, snaggle-toothed face and extreme body language clearly convey his frustration with Cora’s required activities, and his eventual shutdown of each oblivious adult is a bored child’s dream come true. The fable is reminiscent of the finest adult-comeuppance collaborations of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, with the added bonus that the princess learns to speak up for herself and the grown-ups learn to listen. The book’s trim size and artwork will appeal to fans of Kate DiCamillo’s “Mercy Watson” series, and the elegant prose reads aloud beautifully. VERDICT This delightful illustrated chapter book is a first purchase for all elementary schools and public libraries." —Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School Library, VT
Publishers Weekly (starred review):
"Legions of schoolchildren will empathize with overscheduled Princess Cora, whose well-meaning but misguided royal parents insist that a regimen of boring reading, mindless exercise, and frequent bathing is the only way to ensure that she’ll be fit to inherit the throne. After they refuse her a dog, Cora channels her simmering anger into a letter to her fairy godmother, which she then rips up—a toothless act of rebellion that Schlitz (The Hired Girl) infuses with magic: “Because it was a letter to her fairy godmother, every scrap turned into a white butterfly and flew away.” Cora’s godmother gets the message, delivering a pet the monarchs justly deserve: a crocodile with an outsize id and none of Cora’s impulse to please. In illustrations that amplify Schlitz’s wry humor, Caldecott Medalist Floca (Locomotive) produces a reptile that delightfully runs amuck. A mop wig and frilly dress let princess and croc to swap places, allowing Cora much-needed freedom while the crocodile trades insults with the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Utterly charming from start to finish."