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Grace Mellis
Koa the Crocodile
Grace Mellis, author
Join Koa the Crocodile on his journey to realize his dream of hopping like his favorite animal, the kangaroo. He overcomes significant obstacles driven by his own self belief and hard work and achieves his dream and makes a new friend along the way.
In a nest of crocodile eggs, one hatchling quickly proves different from the rest. Koa doesn’t look different from his siblings, but he feels differently. Rather than wait in the water to hunt animals, Koa likes to read or just watch his favorite of all the animals—the kangaroos. He watches not because he’s dreaming of hunting them but because he’s dreaming of leaping like they do. The story follows the journey of this charming crocodile finding his place in the picturesque outback of Australia, a hero who keeps trying even when he (literally) falls flat. Accompanied by warm and expressive watercolor illustrations, Koa the Crocodile is sure to delight anyone who feels just a little bit different from everyone else.

The most stunning pages in the book are the full-bleed illustrations from John Snyder, who imbues the pages with a dusty sun-baked look of golds and brownish oranges. His attention to detail and almost photo-realistic depictions of the animals (emus, wombats, wallabies) other than the crocodiles really make the book shine. The crocodiles, by contrast, are more cartoonish and anthropomorphized, creating a discord in the scenes where both Koa and the other animals appear on the same page, which matches the sometimes awkward syntax of the text.

Even so, Koa is such a friendly and funny character whose charm carries the narrative and is sure to become a new favorite of anyone who reads his story. The themes of finding oneself, staying true to yourself, and not giving up are all tried and true themes in children’s literature, but they’re classic themes for a reason, and Koa offers an appealingly fresh face for them. The unique setting of Australia certainly helps this tale feel new. Ultimately a heartfelt and uplifting ode to being unique and following your heart, Koa the Crocodile is a delightful debut from Mellis.

Takeaway: A moving tribute to all who feel like the odd one out, Koa the Crocodile is a balm and inspiration for young readers.

Great for fans of: Rachel Bright’s The Koala Who Could, Karl Newson’s The Same But Different Too.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-