cover image Alligator Lives Benj

Alligator Lives Benj

Nancy Van Caster. Philomel Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21489-9

An alligator wearing bright red sneakers just like Benjamin's is hiding under Benjamin's bed, waiting to nip on Mom's toes. Mom admonishes the reptile to hush, `` . . . or I'll call Benjamin and he'll capture you and put you in a cage.'' Under the kitchen table dwells a fierce lion with a loose front tooth, just like Benjamin's. In the living room a wild monkey dressed up in Benjamin's clothes throws his puzzle pieces up in the air, but meekly puts them away when scolded by Mom. Frought with joyous commotion, Van Caster's simple story is accentuated by the unique two-dimensional artwork, which springs from the point of view of Benjamin's exuberant imagination. Splashes of bold color are carefully delineated into eye-catching planes and balanced by areas of jangling, frenetic design. The sparse, direct writing style coupled with the equally forthright illustrations produces a trendy, upbeat book of considerable elan. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)