top of page


Dutton Children's Books, 1989 

Reissued by Tricycle Press in 2002


A young crocodile with a vivid imagination wonders "what if"

as he contemplates our world, and  celebrates a birthday. 


"What child or poet or artist could resist a story that starts 'Once upon a time, in a world full of light, trees, bugs, seashells, birds, and night..."? Busy little pictures sparkle, producing enchanted satisfaction....Older pre-schoolers, particularly imaginative children, will love this book."  

 -- School Library Journal

"Kleven imagines an entire universe filled with sparkling pictures and sweet affection. This small and beautiful book neatly reconciles the child's wishes with dreams fulfilled."

 -- Los Angeles Times

Ernst in Korean, Japanese and Chinese

ERNST is also available from Amazon in an English and Spanish edition, published by Bab'l Books.

Plush Ernst toy by Kathe Kruse, available through The Play Store

An unusual tribute to Ernst: a tattoo worn by Caitlyn Post, who kindly wrote "Thank you  for creating a character my weird little childhood self loved so much I had to get a tattoo of him twenty-something years later. Ernst has and will always have a special place in my heart (and now, my skin as well) for his endless questions and fantastic imaginings, and  I am so grateful for you bringing him to life and sharing him with the world."

And here is one more Ernst tattoo. It's always a great surprise and honor to see my book characters connecting with the lives  and imaginations of readers.

Here are two quilts based on the same title page image from ERNST, created by mother-daughter quilters Halli Kenoyer and Aairyn Maxwell 

The birthday-cake-Ernst was sent to me by the mother of,a little boy who had made friends with the character.

bottom of page