Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 13
- Grade: 4 to 8
One of Canada’s most celebrated author’s debut novel for young readers
Beatrice, a young girl of uncertain age, wakes up all alone in a tree house in the forest. How did she arrive in this cozy dwelling, stocked carefully with bookshelves and oatmeal accoutrements? And who has been leaving a trail of clues, composed in delicate purple handwriting?
So begins the adventure of a brave and resilient Black girl’s search for identity and healing in bestselling author Lawrence Hill’s middle-grade debut. Though Beatrice cannot recall how or why she arrived in the magical forest of Argilia—where every conceivable fish, bird, mammal and reptile coexist, and any creature with a beating heart can communicate with any other—something within tells her that beyond this forest is a family that is waiting anxiously for her return.
Just outside her tree-house door lives Beatrice’s most unlikely ally, the enormous and mercurial King Crocodile Croc Harry, who just may have a secret of his own. As they form an unusual truce and work toward their common goal, Beatrice and Croc Harry will learn more about their forest home than they ever could have imagined. And what they learn about themselves may destroy Beatrice’s chances of returning home forever.
About the author
LAWRENCE HILL is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph. He is the author of ten books, including The Illegal; The Book Of Negroes; Any Known Blood; and Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. He is the winner of various awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, and is a two-time winner of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. Hill delivered the North America-wide 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes, which attracted millions of viewers and won eleven Canadian Screen Awards. The recipient of nine honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, Hill served as chair of the jury of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is a volunteer with Book Clubs for Inmates and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, and is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, for which he has volunteered for more than thirty-five years and with which he has travelled to Niger, Cameroon, Mali, and Swaziland. A 2018 Berton House resident in Dawson City, he is working on a new novel about the African-American soldiers who helped build the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. and Yukon in 1942–43. He is a Member of the Order of Canada, has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, and in 2019 was named a Canada Library and Archives Scholar. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, and in Woody Point, Newfoundland.
"At once a perfectly delightful childhood adventure story and a heart wrenching tale about very real, very current events, and the power of friendship and forgiveness to help heal divides at a time when we need it most. Lawrence Hill engages the reader with whimsy and humour, then slowly peels back the layers to some harder truths beneath. I loved this book so much."
Susin Nielsen, author of <em>Tremendous Things</em> and <em>We Are All Made of Molecules</em>
"If Alice in Wonderland, Brown Girl Dreaming, the Wizard of Oz were overlayed with racial violence, integration, and racial identity circa 1950 to 2021, there would be Beatrice and Croc Harry-- a journey of epic proportions. Told in vibrant language about an intelligent, assertive but amnesic girl, the novel follows Beatrice through the Magical Argilia Forest as she, with the help of an overbearing crocodile, pieces together clues that hint to her origins and lead her home. This story has a familiar yet endearing quality that harkens back to children’s literature from the turn of the century."
Nadia L. Hohn, author of <em>Malaika's Surprise</em>
"Like the most memorable books for young people, Beatrice and Croc Harry touches heart, mind, and an ageless sense of wonder. A modern fable of great beauty and sophistication, it teaches us about the forging of unlikely alliances and the quest for truths and good relations in the mysterious and often frightening settings that we have found ourselves within. It teaches us, too, about the awesome courage of a Black girl in discovering herself and pursuing her own ending to a story. Lawrence Hill has poured so much of his celebrated wisdom, wit, and storytelling magic into these pages; and the result is a book to treasure and share across generations."
David Chariandy, author of <em>Brother</em> and <em>I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You</em>