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Children's Poetry
Poetry Break # 2
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Poetry Break # 2

Text of a Picture Book


Judy Sierra writes both childrens prose and poetry. Counting Crocodiles is a prose picture book that seems fresh every time I read it. Regardless of how many times they have heard it before, my preschool and kindergarten students enjoy the words and rhythm.


On an island in the middle of the Sillabobble Sea

Lived a clever little monkey in a sour lemon tree.

She ate lemons boiled and fried,

Steamed, sautéed, pureed, and dried.

She ate lemons till she cried,

Im all puckered up inside!


Then across that sea so wide,

A banana tree she spied.

How delectable, she sighed.

I would love to take a trip across the Sillabobble Sea

And carry back a stack of sweet bananas from that tree.


The Sillabobble crocodiles thought they were truly cool,

And they looked upon those waters as their private swimming pool.

They appeared to be quite vicious,

Feasting fearlessly on fishes,

But the monkey was suspicious,

And the bananas looked delicious.


So she climbed atop her tree, and crid, "I wonder, are there more

Crocodiles in the sea, or monkeys on the shore?"

One crusty croc who chanced to hear her

Snorted, "It could not be clearer

That lurking just below the waves are crocodiles galore.

Why head to tail, we'd reach across the sea!" the reptile roared.




With those words he disappeared into the dark and salty sea,

And brought back his entire crocodilian family.

"Just look at us! I have a hunch

You've never seen a bigger bunch.

(Later be our guest for lunch.)

We're all lined up and waiting, Monkey. Will you count us, please?"


She counted one crocodile

with a great big smile,

Two crocs resting on rocks,

Three crocs rocking in a box,

Four crocs building with blocks,

Five crocs tickling a fox,

Six crocs with pink Mohawks,

Seven crocs juggling clocks,

Eight crocs in polka-dot socks,

Nine crocs with chicken pox,

And ten crocs dressed like Goldilocks.


The crocodiles were dancing and cavorting in the slime,

Impatiently they asked, "How many of us did you find?"

With her mouth full of bananas,

The monkey scolded, "Mind your manners!

Line up now, crocodiles!

I need to count you one more time."


She counted ten crocs dressed like Goldilocks,

Nine crocs with chicken pox,

Eight crocs in polka-dot socks,

Seven crocs juggling clocks,

Six crocs with pink Mohawks,

Five crocs tickling a fox,

Four crocs building with blocks,

Three crocs rocking in a box,

Two crocs resting on rocks,

And one crocodile

with a great big smile.


As the monkey jumped ashore and scurried up her lemon tree,

The crocodiles below cried out, "How many, then, are we?

Tell us NOW!" The crocs all howled.

"Just enough..." The monkey scowled.

"Just enough to make a bridge across the Sillabobble Sea,

But not enough to catch a clever monkey like me!"


COUNTING CROCODILES by Judy Sierra. N.Y.:  Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997.



Extension: a) With younger children, introduce other poems and songs that have to do with numbers, such as, This Old Man. b.) Point out the internal and end rhyme in the refrain (ten crocs and so forth). Invite children to make up similar rhymes using other animals. For example, "One yak lying on his back. Two yaks playing jacks."