AAAlligator!

Judith Henderson, illus. by Andrea Stegmaier. Kids Can, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5253-0151-3
An unlikely camaraderie binds together this whimsical story by Henderson (the Big Words Small Stories series). On a forest hike, a pale-skinned boy discovers an “AAAAAlligator!” with its foot tangled in a vine. Assuming the gator is hungry, the enterprising child feeds him until he’s drowsy enough to be lulled to sleep with a song (“AAAAAlligator, go to sleep./ People are not good to eat”) and then cut loose. But when it appears in search of another song, the boy realizes that the gator is also lonely. Friendship ensues, as depicted with a joyous montage in Stegmaier’s (Ella May Does It Her Way) digitally colored rust red, marigold, and forest green illustrations, which show the duo bathing, reading, and dancing. Unfortunately, the town denizens are less open-minded, and the mayor issues an official proclamation: “NO ALLIGATORS,/ blah, blah, blah.” The boy counters: the gator can help the town by eating its leftover food waste. Seeing the sense in this eco-friendly solution, the townspeople accept the gator, who grows large from their leftovers. Still the mayor persists in his prejudice—that is, until the community stitches together a plan to disguise the gator, discovering that their own attitudes have been transformed in the process. A fable-like tale full of gentle twists that emphasize questioning assumptions and creative problem solving. Ages 3–7. Agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2020
Release date: 10/06/2020
Genre: Children's
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