Bookbug Spotlight: The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water

Bookbug's Author Spotlight gives you the chance to learn more about the work of Bookbug Bag authors and illustrators. We're especially delighted this month to talk to current Bookbug Bag author and illustrator, Gemma Merino. Gemma's book, The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water is currently included our Bookbug Explorer Bag.


What was the inspiration behind The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water?

It was part of the process of having to do a picture book for the Children’s Books MA I did in Cambridge. I sat in front of the paper to think about subjects I was interested in, such as 'being different'. I then made lists of animals and how they could be different in an unusual way. For instance, a giraffe with vertigo, a sheep without wool, a crocodile afraid of water... when suddenly I realised that could be it: ‘the crocodile didn't like water because in fact he could be a dragon, and everybody knows that dragons breathe fire, and fire doesn't like water’.

I like to ask the children about what they think happened to the dragon egg at the beginning of the story

What’s your top tip for sharing The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water with little ones?

The endpapers are open to other stories. I like to ask the children about what they think happened to the dragon egg at the beginning of the story. How did it get mixed up with the crocodile eggs? And also ask what they think happens after the last endpaper where you can see a crocodile egg in a nest of dragon eggs. What do you think will happen to that crocodile who will grow up with dragons?


What do you hope children and parents and carers will take away from The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water?

First of all, I hope children enjoy the story and empathise with the little crocodile, but also I’d like them to wonder about their hidden talents and embrace the differences between themselves and others.


Which books did you love as a child?

I remember my parents telling classic stories, traditional tales from all over the world, including the fascinating stories of Christian Andersen and Brothers Grimm.


Is there a book, an author or any other individual who inspired your love of books?

My mum used to take me and my brother to the local library, that is where I discovered my love for books. I so enjoyed spending my time there, searching the bookshelves and looking for new titles.


Can you recommend any other books by different authors or illustrators that families may like to share together if they enjoyed The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water?


If you could live in any book you’ve written or illustrated which would it be and why?

It would be the cow who climbed a tree. I would like to explore the world with Tina, the curious cow, climb trees with her and discover extraordinary things.


Are there any lessons that your parents taught you that will always stick in your head?

They told me I could be anything I wanted to be, but what was even more important was that they always encouraged me to follow my dreams, regardless of how silly they could seem.

Boy and pile of books from book eating boy

Is there a picture book you wish you’d written or illustrated?

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (image, left)


Tell us about the view from the office/studio where you work? 

I work from home, and from the table where I work I see the garden. I love to watch the changes of each season, the birds that come and go and the fox that lives in the garden next door.


What’s your favourite thing about your local library?

The best thing about my local library is that not only is it a place to get books but also a great space that is used for many other community activities. I think the work they do for children is particularly important, with different activities to encourage little ones to read.


Watch a video of a family sharing The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water on the Bookbug webpages. And check out our list of Books About Dragons for more fire-breathing stories that little ones will love!