‘The Enormous Crocodile’ by Roald Dahl

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

Book 9 of 45 Days of Book Stories

STATS OF THE BOOK

Title: ‘The Enormous Crocodile’
Author: Roald Dahl (1916-1999)
Date of Publishing: 1 November 1978
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Roald Dahl’s writing remains fresh and relevant even today. In his own unique style, the author portrays simple truths about our world. He takes us along with him and the quirky characters he creates – weaving tales of magic, morality and peeling the layers of the world we live in.

Why This Book ?

Another children’s book for the 45 Days of Book Stories. My reason for this particular work by Roal Dahl – The Enormous Crocodile is because it is a perfect modern fable. True, it isn’t exactly a full length ‘book’. The more accurate description for it would be a short story. That too with illustrations, economical use of language and you might still wonder, why this book?

I have 3 main reasons for my choice today,

  1. This work is a perfect example and experience of Roald Dahl’s wicked sense of humour, with many laugh-out-loud moments.
  2. The choice by Dahl to tell the story in the structure of a modern fable is intriguing. His choice of supporting characters, the animals he chooses, is intriguing and intuitive.
  3. The illustrations – WOW! Quentin Blake is a master illustrator. With over 300 books to his credit, Blake and Dahl’s collaborative relationship has given us iconic imagery for iconic works. Some of these are – The Twits, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG to name a few. The list is extensive. But, this one – The Enormous Crocodile was their first collaboration together, and that makes it special. Once talking about this collaboration, Blake said,

“It was very interesting as a task to do…It’s a kind of caricature and that’s where Roald and I met very much. In a sense, what he wrote was like what I drew in the degree of exaggeration and comedy in it. But it was a bit fiercer.”

Quentin Blake in a Web-Iterview

THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE GRABS YOU

From the very first page, your attention is captured. You cannot believe what you are reading. The Enormous Crocodile expresses his wish to the Notsobig crocodile, his desire and plan to eat a juicy child for lunch. Now imagine you’re a child reading those words. I remember my reaction, eyes wide, my first thought was – Thank God! that this child-eating-crocodile wasn’t in India, but was in Africa. But with the writing and the illustrations, you can’t help but reading on and turning the page. Dahl does not disappoint, we get to meet Trunky the Elephant, Muggle-Wump (the monkey) and the Roly-Poly Bird, to name a few. With characters such as these, how can one resist!?

Though Dahl many a time tried to start another picture-book it was almost a decade later, in 1985 that the pair collaborated on the only other large-scale picture-book that Dahl wrote. And that was The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.

A FEW QUESTIONS & THOUGHTS

It would be rare to find a lover of the English language in the present age, a lover of books, that did not have a much-loved relationship with at least one, if not all of Dahl’s Bibliography. So, I leave you with a few questions to ponder,

  1. Which was the first Roald Dahl book you read, and how did it make you feel?
  2. Was there a character in Dahl’s work that you often saw yourself as? Do you still relate to that character?
  3. As an adult, is there any of Dahl’s book you revisit or wish to revisit?

Dahl, born in Wales, in 1916, has left a prolific legacy of work, especially within children’s fiction. This has made him popular within this genre, along with making him popular with adults and children alike. Capturing the imaginations of many generations of young readers, despite the subtly macabre and sometimes wicked undertones Dahl creates. Many even consider him as a true contender for the “most beloved children’s author” along with Enid Blyton.

UNDERSTANDING DAHL

What made Roald Dahl successful in this genre of writing for children and holding their attention, is best summarised by Dahl himself in a 1983 interview with the Irish Times, where he says,

“A child doesn’t have the concentration of an adult, and unless you hold them from the first page, they’re going to wander, and watch the telly, or do something, else. They only read for fun; you’ve got to hold them.”

In the same interview, Dahl expresses his confusion at why more Children’s authors don’t exist. And he goes on to highlight why books aimed at children have enduring and lasting success, he says,

“Every year probably twenty first-rate novels are written in English. I think the answer lies in the fact that during that year there are no more than one or two first-rate children’s books written. And of course, children read a book they like ten times; we read a novel once. Children, once they fall in love with a book, read it again and again.”


A final thought, and question, did Dahl’s writing make you want to write as well? It did for me!