Publishers WeeklyBergman's (Bears, Bears Everywhere!) shaggy-dog/ghost-story includes just enough repetition and courageous characters to help youngest story lovers overcome their fears. The tale begins, "When the alligator came creeping... creeping... creeping up the stairs... were the children scared?" The answer becomes a chorus-like refrain: "You bet they were!" As the dreaded reptile grows closer, the aurally delicious prose raises the stakes: "The alligator's tongue was flicking. The alligator's feet were kicking. Then the alligator's mouth opened up v-e-r-y wide, creak... creak... creak... as if to invite the children inside." The goofy gothic mood carries on in British artist Maland's florid, etching-like pictures and melodramatic characterizations; he mitigates the menacing critter's motives with a sunny palette that gives a strong hint that the children are not on the menu. The artist's wide-angle views of long hallways and cropped panel illustrations of reptile body parts pay cheeky homage to the creature feature: the alligator does not appear in full until the last few pages. (A wordless spread of the alligator's snout provides a fitting visual climax.) But this monster turns out to be all menace and no mayhem: when the children "decided they'd had enough of all this scary alligator stuff," they yell at the dragon-size beast and send him on his way. A great read-aloud and a good giggle. Ages 2-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
And what will the children do once they find out?
Children's LiteratureA little touch of fear and a lot of fun accompany the repeated text and response of this story of an errant alligator. On the title page a loosened manhole cover, then footprints on the city street across the next double page lead us to a spread showing an apartment lobby, with a suspicious-looking tail disappearing up the stairs. The alligator is creeping up those stairs. Then comes the repeated question: are the children scared? The repeated, ever louder response: YOU BET THEY WERE! As the alligator comes closer, biting through the door, slithering down the hall, the tension rises. Rhymes add to the verbal intensity of the flashing eyes, gnashing teeth, while the type of the response gets ever larger, leading to the climactic double page with no text, only a looming close-up of multiple teeth and staring eyes. But the plucky children win the day for a satisfying conclusion. Fuzzy black lines and watercolors create somewhat cartoon-like characters plus all the context to set the stage for the drama. Exaggerated gestures produce melodrama but with a humorous overlay; even the frightening alligator has his comic side. 2005, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 3 to 8.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library JournalPreS-Gr 2-A wide-mouthed alligator slithers out of the sewer and slips down the street and up the stairs of an apartment house. The refrain sets the stage: "Were the children scared? YOU BET THEY WERE!" They try to stop the advancing reptile, but to no avail. Oversized fonts fill the pages with the "snip snapping" of its jaws. The watercolor-and-photocopied drawings show an aerial perspective of the siblings hiding behind a palm tree and underneath a piano. Suspense builds to a dramatic wordless close-up of the green beast's face. Finally, instead of cowering, the children decide "they'd had enough," and shout, "ALLIGATOR, YOU GET OUT!" The surprised (and frightened) intruder stumbles away and tumbles back down a manhole. Children will enjoy the onomatopoeic devices, and brave voices will chime in on this slightly scary read-aloud.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsWhen an alligator chews open the door and comes creeping, creeping through their apartment, are Marissa, Eva and Jonathan afraid? "YOU BET THEY WERE!," Bergman affirms, in a repeated, spread-filling, increasingly emphatic chorus. Though a rather pale shade of green in Maland's cartoon scenes, the big, scaly intruder positively exudes toothy menace-until the children finally decide "they'd had enough / of all this scary alligator stuff. / They plucked up their courage / and gave a great shout: / 'ALLIGATOR, YOU GET OUT!' " And was the alligator scared? "YOU BET IT WAS!" Turning tail, it hustles back down the stairs to the storm drain from whence it came. No diecuts, but still a good alternative to Ed Emberley's classic Go Away, Big Green Monster (1992). (Picture book. 6-8)
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