AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier

AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson, illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier. Kids Can Press, 2020. 9781525301513

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Fantasy picture book

What did you like about the book? A fun story about kindness and acceptance. A boy finds an alligator entangled in a vine. He sings it to sleep in order to free it. The alligator ends up being hungry – for snacks and for a friend – and the boy enjoys his company. Understandably, the townspeople are nervous, but the boy urges them to let the alligator stay, since he hasn’t eaten anyone and he could survive on their leftovers. The mean mayor is against letting the alligator stay, but the boy’s idea galvanizes the town, and in the end, the mayor leaves town and the alligator lives happily ever after with the boy.

It’s fun to see the boy convince the people to shelter the alligator, and I love that the whole town collaborates to hide it from the mayor. The boy has no visible parents, wild hair, and kindness to share. The townspeople are a diverse bunch (Black, White, young, old, and some use wheelchairs), and have no trouble listening to the boy’s assured message of acceptance. Beginning and ending in the present tense, the story feels current, as if one really could go visit the boy and alligator. The illustrations, pencil and digital color, are delightful, and help transmit the humor of the story. And it would be fun to sing aloud the song that the boy makes up to sing the alligator to sleep.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For fans of alligators and readers ages 4-8 who enjoy stories of kindness.

Who should buy this book? Day cares, elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: November 21, 2020

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