cover image Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth

Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth

Jarvis. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8120-3

With his gleaming white teeth, Alan the Alligator has the run of the jungle. “Bwa-ha-ha! I love being scary,” he cackles as he stomps around like a latter-day Godzilla, while the other animals “eek,” “squawk,” and hide in panic. But Alan has a deep secret: his teeth are false. And after that secret gets out, a deeply embarrassed Alan (“My teeth! Wheah ah my teeth?” he shouts, gummily) doesn’t get much sympathy from those he terrorized. A zebra can’t change his stripes, but can a chastened alligator revamp his modus operandi? Jarvis (Lazy Dave) strikes a brisk, matter-of-fact tone that’s spot-on for his overconfident, inconsiderate hero, and he ties up the loose ends of the story with a clever best-of-both-worlds twist. His pictures are even better: working in pencil, chalk, paint, and digital color, he gives each image a striking aesthetic density, with translucent layers, hand-drawn texturing, and lush color combinations redolent of batik and collage. They’re gorgeous—and thanks to his accomplished cartooning, they’re funny, too. Ages 2–5. Agency: Bright Agency. (Feb.)