cover image Gator on the Loose!

Gator on the Loose!

Sue Stauffacher. Knopf, 12.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-375-85847-5

Stauffacher’s (Donutheart) Animal Rescue Team series opens with a slightly overwritten story introducing a Michigan family that runs a wildlife rehabilitation service. After 10-year-old Keisha Carter; her younger brother, Razi; and their father and grandmother rescue an alligator that has wandered into the city pool, the creature escapes from the family’s bathtub (where they’ve placed it for safekeeping), necessitating a second rescue. Called upon to evaluate the gator’s condition, a zoo employee helps deliver the moral: alligators don’t make suitable pets and often can’t survive when released into the wild by their owners. Keisha is a virtual encyclopedia of facts about alligators and other animals, and the sheer chaos of the Carter family’s multiracial household—with friends and neighbors constantly popping in—keeps the story moving. The environmental message, though, is delivered with a somewhat heavy hand, and the humor—largely generated by unconvincingly eccentric Grandma (who’s obsessed with fashion and looking young) and grating chatterbox Razi—can feel forced, though animal lovers are unlikely to mind. The series continues in July with Special Delivery! Ages 8–10. (May)