Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator!

Mo Willems. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (72p) ISBN 978-0-06-200400-0
Six and a half short stories make up this expertly paced page-turner about a girl and her toy alligator, laced with the kid-centric humor on which Willems has built his career. Willems presents everyday, indoor interactions between Amanda and her teal-blue, nontoothy pal, drawn in grainy black crayon with watercolor wash. Alligator waits impatiently for Amanda to return from the library, then asks, "Do you have a surprise for me?" Amanda indulges him by shouting, "Boo!" Then, in a bit of turnabout, while Amanda reads her library books Alligator observes, "Something tickles," followed by "I do!" Another ticklish subject arises when Alligator discovers his price tag and that he came from "the sale bucket" ("Nobody wanted to buy you," Amanda admits, adding, "because they knew you were meant to be my best friend"). The emphasis rests on quiet, ordinary events and the characters' comfortable alliance, which is temporarily threatened by a rival panda toy who bears a resemblance to Knuffle Bunny. As in his Elephant and Piggie books, Willems ends on a generous note, showing how Alligator and Panda overcome their superficial differences and giggle together. Ages 4–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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