A young girl must figure out a way to help a sharp-toothed and fearsome creature many times her size.

Crocodiles come from all over the jungle to see the child they call Little Doctor, who attends to a variety of ailments: splinters, sprains, and self-esteem issues. In return for her ministrations they regale the girl with stories of adventure and fearless beasts. Then an enormous crocodile known as Big Mean appears at the girl’s door, and it takes some patience and an accidental trip inside Big Mean’s jaws to diagnose the problem. Little Doctor frees four hatchlings (carried gently inside Big Mean’s mouth) tangled and trapped by a plastic beverage yoke. Gilmore’s crocodiles, both large and small, are reptilian and sly, even dangerous-looking, accentuating the child’s devotion to these far-from-cuddly creatures. The girl is light-skinned, slim, determined, and serious. Her house in the jungle is filled with crocodile-themed art, including diagrams of the crocodilian life cycle and anatomy, and tools of the doctor’s trade—clipboards, a reflex hammer. The art is angular and detailed, with fine lines and subtle colors. The use of the word “fearless” instead of “fearsome” to describe the crocodiles emphasizes the courage it takes both humans and wild creatures to trust. Big Mean repays with a tale of “great daring and determination”—a story about the Little Doctor herself.

A rousing, toothy adventure. (Picture book. 4-7)

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