A New Fun Crocodile Book for Kids – and how to write one!

Much loved children’s author, Katrina Germain and illustrator, Tom Jellett have a wonderful new book due out next month!

Shoo You Crocodile! is a fun, raucous tale for imaginative young readers and small, brave adventurers. The story offers space for discussion around play, real and imagined stories and families can use the book to play their own make-believe monster games and learn about rhyming words. The book also teaches young readers about working together, being brave, facing challenges and problem solving. (from the publisher) Little Book Press 

Katrina says, The story was super fun to write. Escaping invisible crocodiles is like dodging molten lava; it’s an imaginary game that is played universally by children. I had the idea for this story while watching a group of children play in the sandpit. They were pretending that crocodiles were coming to get them. The book has noise and action with themes of imagination, teamwork and courage. The rhythm and rhyme is lively and there are crocodiles on the loose! What could be more fun than that?

As with every picture book I write, I want to appeal to both adults and children but my primary focus is the kids. Hopefully, young children will love this one because it’s playful with amusing elements of danger. As it was inspired by pre-schoolers exploring ideas together (creating a game about overcoming danger) it’s not about what adults want to tell children; it’s about what children want to tell themselves. There’s also something about crocodiles that intrigues young readers and always draws everyone in.

If educators and parents would like to use the book for other learning experiences there are opportunities to explore language and rhyming words. The main themes include working together, being brave and facing challenges with friends. The illustrator, Tom Jellett, has set the story in a museum, which adds additional, rich layers of meaning to the story. Families could spend ages examining the pictures and pondering the artefacts in the artwork. The book would be great to read before or after a visit to the museum.

THE WRITING PROCESS

What were the challenges of writing a story like this featuring a scary creature in a book for young children?

Great question! Books and play are wonderful ways for children to explore scary situations in a safe manner that makes them feel powerful. (There’s always a happy outcome at the end!) Tom Jellett’s entertaining art perfectly creates the right atmosphere. The crocodiles are running around on their two back legs so they’re not overly lifelike. The story is dramatic and suspenseful but the crocodiles never actually catch the characters or touch them; the children in the story successfully frighten the crocodiles away. The book has a child narrator and the tone is upbeat and energetic. I think all those thing help.

Can you give us 5 tips on how you wrote this book?

I tend to use different processes for different books but this one went something like this…

  1. Let children be the inspiration.

Observe and listen to children. Think about what’s important to them and what ideas they’d like to explore.

  1. Make it fun!

Do this through the use of captivating characters, action and drama and interesting language; use onomatopoeia, rhyme and colloquialisms.

  1. Edit and polish.

Rewrite and rewrite till your story is tight. (SHOO YOU CROCODILE is just under 200 words.)

  1. Trust the illustrator.

Don’t attempt to explain every aspect of the story in the written text. The illustrator will create a visual narrative that completes the story.

  1. Trust the readers.

Don’t spell out themes and messages in a boring, laborious way. Tell an engaging story and let readers discover aspects that interest them. If your book is authentic, layered and interesting readers will find ways to enjoy it.

Thanks Katrina for sharing these great tips.

Katrina Germein is a best-selling picture book author. Published worldwide, Katrina’s book Big Rain Coming has remained continuously in print since it was first published in 1999. Her popular title My Dad Thinks He’s Funny was Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. Thunderstorm Dancing is among many of Katrina’s CBCA Notable Books to have featured on children’s television programs such as Play School. In 2019 Katrina received the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Award for Let’s Go Strolling. Katrina is an ambassador for Raising Literacy Australia, a Books in Homes Role Model and a Premier’s Reading Challenge Ambassador. New titles in 2020 include Tell ’em! and Shoo You Crocodile! Katrina holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She continues to teach part time.

You can find out more about Katrina at her website.

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