Written and Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz
Candlewick Press, 2016
“Let’s find gold,” said Anna.
Anna’s best friend, Crocodile, warns her that finding gold can be difficult and dangerous, but Anna is up to the challenge. He tells her that they need a map, so she asks him to draw one (and put an X on it to mark the gold). His first map puts the gold in France, but they don’t know how to get there. He mentions there could be sunken gold and draws a picture showing gold at the bottom of the sea. They take a boat out to sea and dive into the water near a storm (which was in the picture he drew), where they find a pile of gold. Realizing they need to hide it from other people, they bury the gold and draw a new map (with an X marking the gold). Then they hide the map with the gold, just to keep it safe. It was a difficult task, but now the gold is theirs forever.
Author/illustrator Viviane Schwarz brings all the whimsy in this book that encourages imagination and exploration. Anna and Crocodile are fearless in their quest for gold and they beautifully create and overcome all the obstacles in their path. The relationship between these two is reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes and you are invested in their search from the moment that Anna is overjoyed to hear that the quest will be difficult. Their thought processes are very funny and the book’s conclusion is perfect. The artwork is done in pencil, crayon and watercolor and Ms. Schwarz tells us on the book jacket that she colored the pictures in with a hair from a wild horse and a reed pulled from the Thames. The illustrations feature monochromatic backgrounds at the beginning, which burst into full color as the pair dive into the sea in search of their treasure. I truly loved this book and hope that kids who read it will go on similar adventures of their own.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that even the most difficult tasks can be achieved with a good friend at your side.