Cover image for Jooka saves the day
Jooka saves the day
Eduar, Gilles.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ailes du crocodile. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, [1997]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations
Jooka thinks he is just an unusual crocodile, until a pelican teaches him to value the things that make him different.
General Note:
"First published by Albin Michel Jeunesse in France in 1995 under the title Les Ailes du Crocidile"--page facing t.p.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Jooka is an unusual crocodile: he has antennas, and smoke comes out of his nose. But like all children, he wants to belong. And life is good among the crocodiles on the banks of the Zimbu River -- until Jooka sneezes fire and wings pop out from under his shirt. What's he to do? He has frightened the crocodiles away. He sets out on a journey and meets Theo, the wise pelican, who recognizes him for what he is -- a dragon! In this innocent and magical tale of growing up, Theo teaches Jooka to embrace his differences and master his abilities. The young dragon flourishes and, in a wholly satisfying ending, returns to his friends just in time to save the day.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-7. Jooka-zay-kajoo tries hard to blend in with all the other crocodiles in the Chapichapi rain forest, but his red tank top (which covers wings), antennae, and smoking nostrils tend to set him apart in any crowd. One day, he sneezes flames, frightening all his friends away and leaving him all alone to contemplate why he can't be like everyone else. Eventually he meets Theo, a wise pelican, who recognizes Jooka for what he really is (a dragon) and helps him to appreciate and control his unusual gifts--just in time for Jooka to rescue his friends from two wicked hunters. Eduar's vivid gouache-and-acrylic artwork portrays a jungle teeming with life and activity. This book is a good choice for story hours; pair it with Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree (1990) for a more realistic look at rain forest life. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

This eye-catching French import, a variation on "The Ugly Duckling," concerns a young green lizard who turns out to be a dragon. One day Jooka floats downriver into crocodile territory and is accepted there. Yet Jooka doesn't quite fit in. After he scares his peers by sneezing flames and growing a pair of wings, he sets off on a solo quest for self-understanding. As luck would have it, he encounters a wise old pelican who teaches him to accept his dragon-ness: "The differences are gifts. Your gifts, Jooka.... You must learn to use them." He does, and returns to his crocodile friends just in time to rescue them from poachers. The text may have lost something in the translation from French; it falls flat compared with the gorgeous, layered illustrations. The book's driving force lies in the exquisitely colored, Matisse-style double-page spreads of drooping ferns and palm fronds and the episodic vignettes, such as a triptych of Jooka flying a crocodile to safety. Assured and sophisticated, Eduar's idyllic art ushers the reader into Jooka's tropical home and, even with an underserved text, the views cannot be refused. Ages 4-7. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3‘Young Jooka's journey to self-awareness is a jazzed-up "Ugly Duckling" tale with a modern rain-forest backdrop. Eduar sets the scene with language rich enough to match the intense hues of the naive art. When Jooka-zay-kajoo crashes into their bridge, the crocodiles are amused by his story of falling asleep in the water and by his extravagant name. As the days go by, they can't help noticing that Jooka has antennas and breathes wisps of smoke as he sleeps. When Jooka sneezes one day, flames shoot from his mouth, and pointed wings pop up from under his shirt. His friends panic, disappearing into the river. Now feeling low because he is so different from the other crocodiles, he paddles along with the current and lands on a rocky island inhabited by Theo, a wise pelican. Theo recognizes Jooka for the dragon he is and convinces him that "the differences are gifts." With his help, Jooka gains confidence and flies back to the rain forest, where he saves the crocodiles from hunters. This is a well-paced read-aloud, with a format that is large and bold enough to be seen by a group. Jooka is an appealing character, reassuring proof that differences can be strengths. The illustrations have a unique palette and are enriched by an energetic use of space. The artist utilizes double-page spreads, small frames of action, and free standing figures to maintain constant interest. Bold lines give the artwork a look reminiscent of Bemelmans's work. A clever tale of self-acceptance.‘Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.