Clearly not all good children’s books have been translated into Norwegian. And at the moment one of my favourites is among these. “The crocodile who didn’t like water” had me captured from the first time I saw its cover. There stood this sad little crocodile dipping his toe in the water wearing a brilliantly red inflatable bathing ring. And you didn’t need the title to know that this crocodile was not at all too fond of water.
The entire book is mainly in a blue and green colour scheme. But on every page there are red details that make the book seem more colourful than it actually is. It was not until I wrote this that I realized it myself but now I see that it really works. And that makes me appreciate the book even more.
This particular little crocodile has many brothers and sisters, who of course love water. Scared of being left out he tries and tries to enjoy the water with them. So much so that he spends all his hard earned tooth fairy money on a rubber ring. But still he has trouble playing with his siblings. After one last desperate attempt he almost drowns, and sitting sad and alone on the shore he suddenly feels a sneeze building… That sneeze will change his life forever. All I can say is that it is a case of mistaken identity. (Ok if you promise not to tell anyone… The crocodile was not a crocodile at all. He was a dragon.)
“He longed to play with his brothers and sister. But they were far too busy with swim club. And this little crocodile didn’t like swim club. What he really liked was climbing trees! But nobody else did.”
The story can be read as more than just an entertaining book for children. It is about how we some time try too hard at being something that we’re not. That we try desperately to fit in and it is only when we embrace who we truly are that we find our hidden potential. There will always be some things that others can do better than you but there will also be things that you do best. You only need to find out what that is. In this case the little crocodile didn’t do well in water, but it turned out that he could breathe fire and fly. The story resembles “the ugly duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen. In an attempt to modernize and attract new readers the ducks are switched with crocodiles and the swan with a dragon. Yet the message is the same. If something feels wrong there’s a chance that it is. Don’t waste time on being someone other than yourself.