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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oliver and His Alligator, written and illustrated by Paul Schmid. Hyperion Book, Hachette. 2013. $17.50 ages 3 and up

"It got rough right away.
A lady who wasn't his mom
said, "Welcome to your new
school! What might your
name be?"
Oliver suddenly couldn't
remember his name was
Oliver. So, he said,
"Munch, munch!"
Oliver's alligator
swallowed the lady."

RATS! I should have shared this book with you earlier in the month...when the first day jitters were rampant, and many small children were feeling as Oliver does. He would love to be braver than he sometimes is. He is very nervous about the first day of school.

To help assuage those fears, he heads off to the swamp to pick himself an alligator. That should make things much easier. Right? So, when he is confronted by a woman he doesn't know, he is too distressed to answer her question. His alligator takes care of the problem!

The same thing happens time and again, until his classroom is uncomfortably quiet and he begins to feel quite lonely. How is he going to make things better? How does he deal with the lasting results of his alligator's munching? When he hears music and is aware that school is continuing without him inside his alligator, he does the only thing he can think of to make the situation better.

The lines are simple...both verbally and visually. Paul Schmid has created a tiny treasure of a book that will have listeners feeling a bit bewildered to begin with, then absolutely gleeful when they discover the solution to first day jitters. The simplicity of it all is the strength of the book, and it is sure to become a favorite for the preschool crowd.

It is an imaginative romp that will invite discussion and a quick revisit to 'hear it all over again!'
You won't have to wait until the start of another school year to read it with young children; but, you will want it on your back-to-school booklist for years to come!

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