Princess Cora and the Crocodile by the marvelous Laura Amy Schlitz with completely charming illustrations by Brian Floca is a rare and welcome gem of a little book that reminds me of Lady Lollipop by Dick King-Smith, which I reviewed in 2010. With a fairy tale sensibility, Schlitz and Floca treat readers to a wonderful little story that can be read at bedtime or tackled by new readers on their own.
When Princess Cora is born, her parents thought she was "as perfect as a snowflake." They quickly realize that the princess will one day be queen and the responsibility that it entails. Soon enough, they have her on a rigid regimen of responsible lessons and behaviors. A nanny makes sure Cora is always clean. The Queen studies with Cora every day because, "a princess must be wise." The King turns the old castle prison into a gym where he trains Cora because, "a future queen must be strong!" Cora is beside herself. She wants to be all the things her parents want for her, but she also wants something of her own. One night, she decides she wants a dog because, "a dog wouldn't tell her what to do." Of course the King and Queen refuse, but Cora sends off a letter to her fairy godmother asking for help.
Things don't go quite as expected. Cora finds a box with a crocodile, not a dog in it, the very next morning. The crocodile, as one might expect, is a little pushy and convinces Cora that he can take her place for a day, given the right costume, and "knock people down" and swat them with his tail so they "fall on their rear ends, bang! Then I chew on them."
Cora has a wonderful day on her own, stepping in cow pies (not intentionally) eating freshly picked strawberries and having an adventure. As she returns to the castle she realizes that things with the crocodile are not going as she had hoped. Cora rescues the nanny, the Queen and the King and tames the crocodile with the promise of cream puffs. At dinner that night, after everyone (except Cora) is clean and dry, her parents insist that she give up the crocodile. But they do agree to get her a dog.
Everyone does live happily ever after, with Princess Cora tossing a dozen cream puffs into the royal fountain, "just in case there was someone there who liked them."
Source: Review Copy