Honesty’s the best policy

posted in: Lizzie Finlay | 10
Photo: Kevin Zime
Photo: Kevin Zime

I have an admission to make….
…..I’ve got a soft spot for crocodiles!

Apparently one of my first words was “crocodile” (well… something more like “tot-la-die-loo” if I’m precise), and if a book has a crocodile in it, I’ll always give it a second look. Little Croc’s Purse by Lizzie Finlay is full of cute crocodiles so I was more than happy to read it to M and J when we discovered it recently.

Little Croc is out playing one day with his friends when he finds a purse. The crocodiles soon discover it is full of money, and all but Little Croc start talking about what they will buy with the purse’s contents. Little Croc, however, is determined to take the purse to the police station in an attempt to find its rightful owner.

Despite the jeering from his friends and various temptations laid before him Little Croc sticks to his guns and his honesty is then rewarded; the owner of the purse is so pleased to be reunited with a locket none of the crocodiles had realised was hidden in the purse, that Little Croc is given the purse and the money by way of thanks. Being a good sort of crocodile Little Croc splits his reward three ways – he spends some, he shares some (by buying gifts for his friends) and he saves the rest. Everyone ends up happy and Little Croc has shown his friends that honesty really is the best policy.


M and J have enjoyed this book. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and the crocodiles are just charming. I personally found the storyline a little
didactic; the “moral” of the story is laid out in such a way as to leave little room for personal reflection or drawing one’s own conclusions (which is surely a far more powerful way to learn from something). And whilst I of course applaud Little Croc’s actions, and would want my kids to do the same I couldn’t stop thinking about my own experience of once handing in a bunch of keys I’d found to the police station – the officer on duty looked at me almost with disdain and all but said he had better things to be doing with his time that looking after lost property… a true but sorry story.

Despite all this, Little Croc’s generosity is heart-warming (he goes out of his way to give a gift to one of the crocodiles who had been particularly horrible to him, and this selfless act of kindness, you sense, ensures that the previously unpleasant crocodile will be much nicer in the future) and although the main message of the story is a little starkly put for my liking, several other themes are introduced with a lightness of touch, such as not giving in to bullying, still being liked and respected by others even when opinions on the best course of action differ, a discussion of what gives an object value, and a rather sensible approach to financial management which could make this a good book to read if you are about to start giving your kids pocket money.

All this all adds up to create a story that has given M and me plenty to talk to each other about – and a book that creates conversations long after the covers have been closed is always a winner.

Our immediate crafty reaction to this book was to use some of the boxes that have been littering our shed since Christmas to make a crocodile.


We painted several boxes green…


…then M cut out some teeth. Limbs were made by rolling up some green construction paper, and the tail was made from a long cone of paper. Eyes were made out of the dome-y bits of an egg carton. Everything was stuck together with tape and then the girls went swimming!


It didn’t take long till the game changed to “What does the crocodile want to eat?”…. and poor dolly was the first to end up in Croc’s tummy!


Little Croc’s Purse:** (2 stars)

Some snappy 😉 music which would go well with Little Croc’s Purse includes:

  • Crocodile Rock by Elton John
  • Never Smile At A Crocodile by The C.R.S. Players
  • Honesty by Scott Perry

  • And if you don’t have a surplus of cardboard boxes, or a gallon of green paint, you might instead try making:

  • a crocodile softie with a zip for teeth! From We Wilsons, found via WhipUp
  • a stunning crocodile costume, from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
  • a purse or two – there’s a great selection of tutorials gathered together here at Meet me at Mikes, and a gorgeous Piggy Bank Purse from NoseyNest

  • There are also some activity sheets from the publisher to go with Little Croc’s Pursethey’re available here (scroll to the bottom of the page), as are some activity sheets for Box of Tricks, which I reviewed here.

    Up until today all books reviewed on Playing by the book have been either ones I’ve owned or ones I’ve borrowed from the library. Little Croc’s Purse is the first book reviewed which I received from a publisher. So this post marks a potentially exciting new phase for me here (not that I expect to be inundated by books from publishers), and it means that I need now to think about a book review policy. If any of you have already written one, or thought about writing one, I’d appreciate any tips or suggestions.

    10 Responses

    1. Sarah N.

      What a fantastic crocodile you three made! My girls would love to pretend to swim with a croc they’d made. We just rediscovered Tomie dePaola’s Bill and Pete books about Bill, the young crocodile, and Pete, the bird who is his toothbrush and best friend.

    2. Kristine

      It’s fitting that a dino obsessed daughter has a croc lover for a mum! That model looks great on that scale.

      Do you know the song about the lady with the Aligator Purse?

    3. Zoe @ Playing by the book

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for the Tomie dePaola tip!

      Hi Kristine,

      I’d completely forgotten that song – but I’m so glad you’ve reminded me of it. It was a song we sang regularly when I was a kid, and now I shall have to start singing it with M and J. In case others don’t know/recognise the song here’s a version of The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Johnette Downing

    4. vanessa@silly eagle books

      I love how they changed the game to “what does the crocodile want to eat?” I can see Juliet doing the very same thing!

      How wonderful that you are receiving books from publishers! I hope you get a lot of good books in your mailbox.

      Speaking of mailboxes, I just received your lovely thank you card in the mail today! You made me smile! Thank you!

    5. Adventure Mom Janna

      Hello! Vanessa, from sillyeaglebooks recommended your site to me. It’s wonderful!

      I also have a passion for reading to children. In fact, last week I started a link up called “Feed Me Books Friday.”

      Every Friday, I encourage moms to share 1-3 books that they love and then come to my blog and leave a link back to their post.

      It was so fun to go to the diff. blogs and see what everyone was reading. I copied and pasted the bks and titles and now I have a great library list with mom recommended titles.

      I just subscribed to your blog and I would absolutely love for you to link up some Friday b/c these are such quality posts that you have.

    6. Kellyi

      I have a 7 year old boy you can borrow – he too is obsessed with crocs. We’ve a lapbook stuffed with croc facts, and he spends ages watching and pretending to be Doctor Brady Barr (highly recommended viewing for a croc fan!)

      Your model is great.

    7. Marjorie

      What a fabulous crocodile – we made a snappy hand puppet using painted cereal boxes a couple of years ago but never quite managed a full-sized version!

      Are you like me with elephants – any book with crocodiles that comes along and the kids get it!?

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