Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
$17.99, ages 4-8, 72 pages.

Amanda's stuffed Alligator is a handful, but she wouldn't want him to be any other way.

She just needs a way to keep this zippy little fellow as busy as he wants to be.

In this sweet picture/chapter book hybrid, Caldecott winner Willems introduces a toy that can't sit still and the girl who just wants to make him happy.

Alligator is getting bored a lot, sometimes even when Amanda is in their room.

When Amanda wants to read how-to books, he wants to play and tries to distract her away with surprises.

One time he shouts "Boo!" and causes the books she's piled up in her arms to take flight like a startled flock of birds.

Another time, he tickles her tummy like he's playing piano. And once, he leaps jaws first onto her head because, well, it looks kind of tasty.

From Alligator's standpoint, there isn't enough to do and it's no fun waiting to be played with, especially when Amanda leaves her room and he's left to twiddle his tail.

But one thing's for certain, Amanda always comes through for her best buddy, even if she can't always be in the room with him.

Especially, when something accidental happens to make Alligator question how important he really is.

Like when he finds a sale tag on his fanny and discovers that Amanda bought him for just seven cents.

"Why did no one want to buy me?" he asks Amanda, as the skin under his eyes sags and he squeezes his tail around his tummy.

Amanda knows she has to tell him the truth and though truth can hurt, when you're friends, it has a way of working itself out.

"…Because they knew you were meant to be my best friend," she says, clutching her hands happily in front of her.

But then Amanda brings home a spiffy stuffed koala bear from the zoo and what is Alligator to think?

His first reaction is to give Koala the cold shoulder. But could Koala be as antsy to play as he is?

It may have been sad to see Knuffle Bunny go last year with Willems' final book in that series, but here's a fellow fans will latch onto just as fondly.

And wish they could stick under their arm and lug around too.

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