Alexis Deacon
(Random House Children’s Books)

Two eggs sit in the sand, side by side. When they hatch, out pops a baby crocodile from one, and a baby bird from the other. Unaware of their differences, the brothers learn to survive and live together. They are happy and content until one day, by chance, they stumble across a lake full of crocodiles and a forest full of birds. Awakened to their obvious differences, they decide to stay with their own kind. But can the bonds forged by brotherhood be so easily forgotten?

Croc and Bird mixes comical and genuinely heart-warming scenes to create a beautiful tale of love, friendship and where we feel we really belong. Deacon’s style is very unusual. with thick lines that almost look like that they would be grainy if you touched them. His artwork can be dark at times, the bird and crocodile not as “cute” as you might find them in other illustrated books, they fill more real, close to zoological sketches at times.  However, the use of subtle colours helps to give a delicate feel to the story and  the mixture of slight harshness and create a truly evocative atmosphere, which oozes emotion.

Deacon tackles the theme of nature versus nurture in the utmost lyrical way, and I found myself moved to tears by the implications of Croc and Bird’s relationship: how family is what you make it, not what is expected by others, how you can feel isolated and alone amongst your kind and accepted and loved by those who are not. The subtle message found in Croc and Bird makes this book a powerful tool not only to help young readers’ understanding and acceptance of others’ differences, but also to help those who might feel, for whatever reason, isolated.

In a society that is perhaps, sometimes, judgemental of non-conformist family units,whether because of race or gender, Croc and Bird is a beautifully gentle reminder that in the end, it is the fact of loving someone and  being loved in return,  that really matters.

All illustrations © Alexis Deacon

Many thanks to Random House Children’s books for sending a review copy of “Croc and Bird”

Come back tomorrow to discover Alexis Deacon’s Fabulous Five Animal Picture Books!