Thursday, February 04, 2021

Please Feed the Alligator! AAAlligator! by Judith Henderson

In the middle of a great forest, just outside town, there lived a boy in a red house next to a hidden lake. The lake was just big enough for one medium-sized whale.

On one of his walks he came upon something that stopped him in his tracks!


The alligator seemed to be stuck in some twisted vines. The boy wanted to help--without being eaten in the process. So he tossed the alligator his lunch. The alligator swallowed it, but he still looked hungry, so the boy ran home and packed a bag with everything he could find in the refrigerator.


The alligator downed it all...-except for the onions--and even ate the bag. He yawned and looked as if he needed a nap to digest the food, so the boy improvised an original alligator lullaby:

Alligator, go to sleep.

People are not good to eat.

When you wake, you will be free.

Please, please, do not eat me.

While the 'gator snoozes, the boy cuts him loose with his pocketknife, and runs all the way home, faster than an alligator, he hopes.

But during the night he is wakened by noises outside his window. And there is the alligator, looking lonely. The boy tosses him a stuffed animal and they both sleep quietly for the rest of the night.

In the morning, the alligator seems quite tame, and he and the boy become fast friends. And one day the boy decides to take the alligator downtown for a look around. Naturally, the townspeople are more than a bit upset and flee as fast as they can. The Mayor issues a proclamation on the spot:


 (Blah blah blah)

But some of the townspeople are sympathetic, and when they learn that the alligator will eat anything (but onions), they come up with a brilliant adjunct plan for their over-burdened recycling system. Talk about your natural solutions to waste disposal! Everyone begins to bring their kitchen leftovers over every night for the alligator, enjoying the evening walks and chats together, and everyone was happy--the boy, the alligator, the townspeople--everyone except the Mayor....

But no one cares about the Mayor!

In her fanciful story about a boy and his alligator, AAAlligator! (Kids Can Press, 2020) pokes a little fun at self-important local authorities, and a large, lost reptile finds a home, friends, and a job to boot, with a reminder that newcomers may turn out to have some needed abilities. With illustrator Andrea Stegmaier's jolly illustrations, this one joins the many popular fanciful stories of alligators for the picture book fancier, such as If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't! (Magnolia Says DON'T!, 1) (See my review here).

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