Saturday 12 May 2012

The Greedy Crocodile: A Collection of Australian Stories

The Greedy Crocodile
The Greedy Crocodile by Sally Morgan (Walker Books)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781921720659
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

In this collection of ten Australian stories contained in seventy-six pages, there is a wonderful mixture of creation, animal, earth, sea and sky, and Spirit stories. They are in part drawn from Sally Morgan’s own childhood. Others are drawn from family sources. Some are gross, all are entertaining and clever with a moral to each tale. This is a perfect collection for readers of all ages that reflect the inexhaustible ability of Aboriginal people to tell the most creative and amazing stories.

A greedy crocodile named Shontu loses all his friends because he keeps trying to eat them. He gets his payment when the family he swallows gets their revenge.

Yamin was always wishing. Every thought was a wish – good and bad. He thought he had it all until the wishes turn into an unstoppable chain of cause and effect .

Marni is a girl who can’t stop shouting but is finally balanced out by her clever grandmother with the help of a little magic. There is a wondrous tale about how the first white man came into the world, and one of Wadjella, a boy of great courage. Then there’s Roly Poly the wombat who escapes a giant and finds a mate after many hairy adventures.

Other animals include the proud goanna who was so stuck up, he held his head so high that he lost his footing and fell into the crocodile’s mouth. Then, The Gourmet Giant with an enormous appetite is stopped by his clever cook Nardu.

A beautiful story is that of Yael, a bird spirit, and Mulwarra, a human girl. Two beings who are different to one another in every way, yet with so much in common, who finally find a way to be together.

The Grumpy Frog tells of a giant frog that swallows everything in its way.  He could have swallowed the whole of Australia, and almost did but for the intervention of the Good Spirit who put a blowfish in his way with unforeseen results.

Many of these tales are adventures while in search of food; others are character flaws that are corrected through a lesson learnt. Then there are the ones that are just good fun, and an extremely good read. There is a Glossary of words at the end of this superbly illustrated book, produced with quality semi gloss pages and a fantastic front cover depicting  the greedy crocodile.

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