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Review: Beatrice and Croc Harry

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I came across Beatrice and Croc Harry on NetGalley and was immediately intrigued as, like many others I’m sure, I’ve come to know Lawrence Hill for his adult writing. I was lucky enough to get approved, so now it’s time to share my thoughts on Hill’s debut novel for young readers.

Cover of Beatrice and Croc Harry by Lawrence Hill, which shows a Black girl standing in a treehouse looking down at a crocodile below.
Lawrence Hill. Beatrice and Croc Harry. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2022.

About This Novel

Adventure begins when Beatrice, a young girl of uncertain age, wakes up in an unfamiliar treehouse in an unfamiliar forest. She has no idea how she came to be here or even who she is. She finds that she can communicate with the creatures of the forest, including Croc Harry, an enormous crocodile, with whom she forms an unusual alliance.

With an inkling that a family may await her return, Beatrice sets out with Croc Harry to learn more about her strange circumstance. But what they uncover together may destroy her chances of getting home forever.

My Review

It only takes one word to describe this novel: delightful! Beatrice and Croc Harry is a reminder of the whimsy and wonder of the best bedtime stories, the ones that are clearly made up, that don’t rely on strict facts, but contain enough heart to make you want to believe.

The inclusion of words, real and concocted, is incredibly fun. Hill clearly finds joy in language, and he invites readers to do the same. And he does so without being too serious or like he’s forcing an educational component.

Even with the silliness of talking rainbows and high-flying rabbits, Hill still manages to include serious themes. Beatrice, a Black child, questions the labels used to describe her and ponders big questions about family, friends, and belonging. She faces dangers not only related to being on her own in an unfamiliar forest, but also from those would do her harm simply for the colour of her skin. Yet she demonstrates over and over her determination to stand up for herself and love herself as well as her friends. She is immensely endearing in her tenacity.

If this is what Lawrence Hill can offer young readers, may he long continue in this field.

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