Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Alligator Boy

Alligator Boy

Spring 2007 Picture Books
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Diane Goode
ISBN: 978-0-15-206092-3
Hardcover Price: $16.00
Inspired by a stuffed alligator encountered on a trip to the museum, a nameless young boy decides to change his species altogether and join the world of reptilians. A gift from an aunt “in a faraway land” seals the deal. His patient parents feed him and read to him and teach him his ABCs; his mother worries and calls a doctor...who recommends a vet instead; and he manages to attend school (in all his scaly glory) where he deals with the school bully (big teeth help), and learns to spell and sings “from his very long snout.” At story's end he (and all those around him) have learned that it's actually easier being green than to stay stuck in a body that doesn't quite suit. Rylant's rhyming text works well, though a few bumpy scans and a slightly forced rhyme from time to time interrupt the flow. The real charm lies in Goode's illustrations. Her finely inked outlines washed in gentle blues and greens with occasional pastel accents are endlessly expressive. A single curved line creates a worried expression, a satisfied smile, or an angry snarl. The final vignette of mother and reptile snuggling in a chair forms the perfect tender finale to this buoyant tale about finding your own way in a confusing world. An embossed alligator on the pea green cover completes this handsome package.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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