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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator! Written and illustrated by Mo Willems. Balzer & Bray, Harper. 2011. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"Amanda was at the library
getting her books for the week.

Her alligator was not.

He was waiting for Amanda
to get back."

Amanda's story is told in six and a half chapters, perfect for early reading and appealing to every single person that will share them. It looks like a picture book, but it is also a beginning chapter book which will appeal to readers a bit older. It is so much fun for everyone involved in bringing it to life!
Those who love Mo Willems' previous books will find much to love here, too. A young girl leaves her stuffed alligator at home while she makes her weekly visit to the library. We know she must be having a great time. Unfortunately, Alligator is not. He sits in a corner, paces the room, plays with his tail and impatiently awaits the return of his best friend. He is unsettled when she is not near. He's ready for a surprise when she returns and she is adept at such matters.

In the second chapter, Amanda is reading one of her new books when Alligator arrives with a surprise of his own. Amanda knows that Alligator has little imagination and guesses the surprise, leaving her friend to think seriously about what he might do to really give her a scare. The half chapter is short, sweet and perfectly executed.

Finally, he wields a successful shock to her system. Unfortunately, that leads to a series of troubling questions and truthful answers and an alarming discovery that has Alligator concerned over his true worth. Amanda  is diplomatic and pointedly honest in helping him gauge his value to her. The last two chapters are so much fun. Alligator shows his goofy side, and reiterates the fact that he is easily bored.

When Amanda goes to the zoo with her grandfather, she comes home sporting a new stuffed toy...a panda! Some surprise! Luckily, Alligator is open to new experiences and that makes life good.

There is comfort in familiarity and you will find that here. A little girl with a much-loved stuffed toy, an unusual friendship between two mismatched animals and some troublemaking. You must watch closely to make connections to some of Mo's earlier stories. The point of view belongs to the alligator. The importance of friendship is the overarching theme, and is recognized fully and embraced wholeheartedly by all concerned. This is another great book from a much-loved author!

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