D. Publisher: Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.
G. Summary: A clever little monkey lives in a lemon tree on an island in the middle of the Sillabobble Sea. Across the sea there is an island that has a banana tree! The little monkey uses her quick wit to out smart the hungry crocodiles that live in the surrounding water. She tricks them into creating a pathway across the water by counting them. On the copyright page, there is a note: "This story is based on Pan-Asian folktale in which a trickster animal (a monkey, a rabbit, or a mouse deer) persuades crocodiles or sharks to form a bridge over water, under the pretext of counting them." The illustrations are done in oil, oil pastel, watercolor, and gouache on vellum.
H. Response: I got this book in October or November at the math conference in Greensboro, NC and I absolutely love it. First of all the illustrations are phenomenal; the way the illustrator combines the media of oil, oil pastels, watercolor, and gouache on vellum create such breathtaking water/underwater pictures. In the story, the clever monkey counts the crocodiles in so many fun ways: crocs resting on rocks, building blocks, in a box, in polka-dots, juggling clocks, and the list goes on and on. The funny illustrations to go along with the strange things the crocodiles are doing makes this book very entertaining and interesting. Younger kids will love to see crocodiles in the water dressed in tuxedos playing violins, with big blond wigs, dressed up like Goldilocks, or sunbathing. This book also counts up from one to ten and then back down from ten to one. For younger elementary grades, this book could be used in numerous ways to aid classroom mathematics lessons.
I. Teaching Ideas: This book would be excellent to start off a lesson on counting and recognizing numerical order because the book counts up from one to ten and then back down from ten to one. After reading, one way to include Counting Crocodiles would be to draw or paint their own scenes full of ten animals. There is a lesson plan that goes along with a Dr. Suess counting book called Ten Apples Up On Top that could also work with Counting Crocodiles. Each student takes a paper plate and draws a self-portrait of themselves (or to apply it directly to the book, you could have the students draw their favorite animal, a crocodile, or maybe the monkey). Next, each student decides how many apples to balance on their head (or the students could draw bananas to go along with Counting Crocodiles). Once the student has picked how much fruit to balance on the head of their portrait, then they create the cutouts of the fruit to paste on the head. Once everyone is completed, as a class we can decide which self-portrait or animal-portrait will go where, so that the number of fruit is in order from smallest to greatest. There are so many little ways to modify this one lesson plan into working well with this book. The bottom line is that Counting Crocodiles has gorgeous and bright illustrations that can keep anyone interested, a great example of counting and numerical ordering, and is just overall fun. It is a great mathematical book addition for any lower level classroom.