Going to school can be rough when you are only four inches tall and everyone makes fun of you, day in and day out, just because you are puny.
In Mary Emkey’s Alex the Alligator, Alex Longtail, an alligator struggling to get through elementary school, is so small that his only friend, Charlie Shortleg, has to help him climb into his chair so he can get his schoolwork done. The other alligators point at him and laugh.
At lunchtime, Butch Widemouth, the class bully, wants to make the other students laugh even harder, so he grabs Alex by the tail, swings him around and around, and lets go. Poor Alex flies through the air and bumps his head on a tree! He goes home, heartbroken, wishing for only one thing—to grow.
The next day, Miss Fuzzytail, Alex’s teacher, tells the class they are going on a fieldtrip to the wetlands the following week. Somebody yells that Alex better be careful or the birds that live there might think he is a worm and eat him. For Alex, that is the last straw.
He had heard of a wise alligator who has magical powers. But there is one problem—the alligator lives on the far side of the wetlands, and Alex could run into dangerous animals in the marshes on the way. He is determined, however, and once the fieldtrip begins, Alex sneaks off alone.
Soon enough, he meets the frightening creatures that live in the wetlands. Big Beak, a majestic brown bird, really does mistake Alex for a worm, and almost eats him! And Blackie, a twelve-foot-long water moccasin, at first scares Alex so bad he wants to run away, but he is afraid to move.
Finally, Alex finds the wise alligator and asks him to make him as tall as his father. But instead of casting a magic spell, the wise alligator teaches Alex something more valuable. He tells Alex it is not his appearance that counts but what is in his heart. Alex, who then feels ten feet tall inside, is found by his worried parents and goes home. And as for Butch Widemouth and the other alligators at school? Well, Alex now has a lesson or two to teach them!