Jean Gralley, . . Holt, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6328-8

An obstinate alligator, an equally tenacious redheaded girl and an irresistible purple couch take center stage in Gralley's (Hogula, Dread Pig of Night) imaginative tale of a play date gone awry. Snappy, simple rhymes relate the girl's frustration when a reptile who came to play won't budge from her couch. "All I really wanted/ was to slouch upon my couch./ But Gator made me grumpy, oh,/ that Gator made me grouch." She resorts to calling the handlebar-mustached, bobby hat–wearing Gator Raiders, who come "with sirens wailin' and their gator poles a-flailin'." But rather than oust him, they rambunctiously join the alligator on the alluring couch. The gouache-and-ink artwork reflects this crescendo of action as white backdrops give way to bright yellow and orange geometric patterns with the words "Wheeee" and "Yahooooo" worked into the foray of color. Only when the expressive redhead's thunderous commands of "STOP!" get results does the background return to a calmer pale yellow and then to white. "Oh! Now I get it!" the raiders and the alligator sheepishly acknowledge in cartoon bubbles. When the girl finally relaxes on her couch with a loud "Ahhhhhhhhh" (and a "See you later, alligator") she realizes she is the "Boss of Play, every day!" Bosses of Play everywhere will cheer on this heroine. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)