• Charles Dunn

I'd Really Like to Eat a Child, by Sylviane Donnio [an offbeat review]


I’d been looking forward to this one for a while based on the title alone. In my ongoing search for offbeat selections, it frequently popped up in the You May Also Be Interested In / We’re Watching You suggestions.


Little crocodile, Achilles, is tired of a steady diet of bananas and resolves to eat a child from the neighboring village. Not sure why his parents are pushing the fresh fruit agenda. Maybe they have stock in Chiquita. Or why Achilles abruptly decides he’s fed up, literally. My kids love turkey burgers on Tuesday and are repulsed by them on Thursday, so it sounds like a universal truism. In any case, Achilles’ parents present him with a succession of alternatives, including sausage, cake, and conspicuous martyrdom, always a desperation move when convincing a child to follow directions. Achilles stumbles across a small child, conveniently hanging out alone beside a crocodile-infested river (fortuitous, don’t you think?), and launches his attack. “raah.” The knee-high reptile poses as much threat as a backyard roly-poly, and he’s casually tossed back in the reeds. He swears by Almighty Zeus and the pantheon of gods, in so many words, that he’ll eat bananas until he’s big and strong, and then return for some beach sushi.


I had to explain the crocodile’s pledge at the end to my 4 year-old. He has a basic understanding of the food chain though, so it wasn’t a far walk. He was wearing banana pajamas at the time, a coincidence that turned out entertaining, if not instructive. It seems Big Banana’s reach is both insidious and widespread. Achilles’ attitude is more petulant than blood-thirsty, so the story is fairly benign, and mostly harmless. Unless your little one spends a lot of unsupervised time on sub-Saharan riverbanks, in which case you should probably interpret it as a harbinger of bad things to come. In fact, you should probably take a break right now for a quick once-around outside. I don’t know what kind of liability I’m assuming by distracting you like this. I can wait.