That night, he heard rustling outside his window. He got out of bed and peeked through the curtains.
There it was. The alligator! Waiting – but not in a hungry way.
“Are you lonely?” the boy asked.
He opened the door and tossed Theodor, his stuffy, outside. “Please don’t eat him,” he said, then quickly shut the door.
Through the window, the boy sang the alligator lullaby. The alligator snuggled up with Theodor and went to sleep.
The next morning, Theodor was still there – thank goodness.
One day, a boy who loves the outdoors meets an alligator in the forest. At first, the boy is afraid, but he soon realizes that the alligator is harmless, if a bit lonely and hungry. The boy and the alligator become fast friends as they play, dance and read together. Even so, upon seeing the alligator in town, the townspeople run away in fear, and the mayor quickly writes a proclamation banning alligators. The boy stands by his friend and explains that the alligator is gentle and helpful because he can eat the town’s leftovers. No more waste! The townspeople realize that they judged the alligator too quickly, but the mayor is stubborn and wants the alligator gone. As the alligator grows bigger and bigger on a steady diet of leftovers, it becomes increasingly hard to hide the alligator from the grumpy mayor. Together, the boy and the townspeople create an ingenious solution to disguise the alligator and restore peace to the town.
AAAlligator celebrates many important values, chief among them being empathy and kindness. In spite of being apprehensive and surprised to encounter an alligator, the boy wastes no time in helping him and treats the alligator with care and respect. Acceptance is shown to be the root of true friendship. The book also centres how essential it is to be open-minded. The townspeople reconsider their initial negative reaction to the alligator through shared conversation while the mayor remains stubbornly convinced of his perspective. Through this contrast, readers understand that teamwork and community are only possible when people are willing to reconsidering their points of view. Stegmaier’s mixed-media illustrations are full of whimsical details that enhance the written narrative. From the diverse cast of townspeople, to the appearance of Theodor, the boy’s cherished bird stuffy found in many scenes, readers will come back to this book time and time again to discover new visual gems.
AAAlligator is a sheer delight to be shared with young adventurers everywhere.
Chloe Humphreys works as a Youth Services Librarian at Surrey Libraries in beautiful British Columbia.