Oliver and His Alligator

Paul Schmid, Author, Paul Schmid, Illustrator
Paul Schmid. Disney-Hyperion, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-7437-0
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
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Oliver, first seen cradling a toy alligator and staring at an uneaten breakfast, dreads the first day of school. He “felt his brave wasn’t nearly as big as he needed it to be,” so he invites an alligator to join him. When a “lady who wasn’t his mom” greets him and asks his name, he musters only two words: “Munch, munch!” Each time Oliver feels anxious, this response makes his alligator swallow the perceived threat. Soon his friendly fellow students and some intimidating educational materials are inside the ballooning reptile. Schmid (Perfectly Percy) sketches Oliver in a few angular dashes of pastel pencil. The soft, crayony lines belie Oliver’s anxiety, and his alligator, for all its alleged ferocity, never shows any teeth (and lacks even a visible mouth). Readers are left to imagine the offstage “munch, munch” and later learn—as Oliver questions his limiting desire for solitude—that the students are having fun inside the beast, while Oliver (temporarily) stays outside. Schmid focuses on how a child uses imagination to devour, and finally to conquer, a fear of socializing. Ages 3–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (June)
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