Reviews for Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

Booklist Reviews 2011 April #1
Here's a new pair of kid-and-stuffed-animal best friends from Willems. Although Amanda gets top billing in these "6 1/2 Surprising Stories about 2 Surprising Friends," Alligator is the real star of this show. After a bit of warmhearted play and a feisty tickle romp, Alligator is sad to learn that he went for a measly seven cents in a sale bucket, so Amanda explains that it was because everyone knew he was meant to be her best friend. Elsewhere, efficient jabs of absurdity ("Amanda was reading her library book You Can Make It Yourself: Jet Packs! when she noticed her alligator chewing on her head") balance with wise lessons on the mechanics of friendship (Alligator, dismayed when Amanda comes home with a stuffed panda, learns that friendships work as well in trios as they do duos).With the book's minimal backgrounds and a roomy page design, the focus falls squarely on Willems' cleanly styled characters, whose facial expressions are carried in the simplest of just-so lines. Willems may not have the market cornered on best friends, but few do them better. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Willems's "6 Surprising Stories About 2 Surprising Friends" star Amanda and her best friend, a blue stuffed alligator. In short episodic chapters, the author develops his characters and their relationship, balancing moments both funny and moving. Working in his recognizable style, he uses lots of white space and very few props to provide a clean stage for the animated players. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #4
Self-possessed Amanda marches toward the table of contents carrying a sign: "6 Surprising Stories About 2 Surprising Friends." This book is full of surprises (including chapter 2 : "An Extra Surprise") for Amanda and her best friend, a blue stuffed alligator. Some surprises are good: "'Something tickles,' said Alligator. 'What tickles?' asked Amanda. 'I DO!' yelled Alligator." Some are less so, such as when Alligator learns the hard truth that he came from the sale bucket ("No one wanted to buy you"). Alligator paces and fiddles with his tail when Amanda's not around, waiting and waiting for her to come back. When she's home, he's a lot like an impulsive, impatient puppy. Seventy-two pages is long for a picture book, but Willems knows how to keep things interesting and his audience engaged. In short episodic chapters, he develops his characters and their relationship, balancing moments both funny and moving. Working in his recognizable style, Willems uses lots of white space and very few props to provide a clean stage for his animated players. In the last chapter, a new character makes a surprise appearance: "The panda was huge. The panda was fluffy. The panda did not look like it came from the sale bucket." This unpleasant-for-Alligator surprise has a very satisfying resolution: sometimes surprises are blessings in disguise. kitty flynn Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2

An exploration of the nature of surprises between good friends.

The point of view belongs firmly with Amanda's stuffed alligator, whose patience wears thin whenever Amanda is away and he is waiting for her return, and whose generosity is taxed when Amanda brings home a new stuffed panda from a zoo visit. Resourceful Amanda plows through a stack of library books with enticing titles (Whale Songs for Beginners; You Can Make It Yourself: Jet Packs!) as her alligator thinks of ways to engage her attention. When Alligator begins chewing on Amada's head, she tells him "Books beat boredom," but he still thinks her head tastes better than a book. Alligator's worry over his price tag (he came from the sale bin) and the introduction of the new "friend" add emotional complexity to the simple friendship tale.  The pacing, word volume and wide trim size are all inviting and encouraging, bringing readers close to the cozy friendship between Amanda and her impatient stuffed friend. The figures are set against plenty of white space, giving them an appealing kinetic energy and encouraging the eye to move, or sometimes gallop, across the page.

Silly, warm and inviting, the six-and-1/2 short episodic chapters are just right for reading aloud as well as for beginning readers who are steady on their reading feet. (Picture book. 3-7)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 March #4

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)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May

PreS-Gr 2--These "6½ Surprising Stories About 2 Surprising Friends" expand on the bond between child and toy that Willems captured so well in "Knuffle Bunny." In the first tale, the turquoise stuffed alligator, endearingly pictured clutching his tail, anxiously awaits young Amanda's return from the library. When he asks her for a surprise, she delivers expertly, yelling, "BOO!" Though his first attempt to return the favor is an "un-surprising surprise," Alligator follows Amanda's suggestion to put on his Old Thinking Cap--a kind of Viking helmet with lightbulbs attached--and succeeds. Alligator later overcomes his disappointment at discovering that he was taken from the discount bin when Amanda tells him that no one else bought him because he was meant to be her best friend. Finally, he discovers a new pal in a potential rival toy. The humor in these stories suits both children and adults, as when Amanda notices Alligator chewing on her head while she is reading You Can Make It Yourself: Jet Packs! White pages with partially outlined background elements set the scene, while the characters take center stage. In the author's trademark charcoal and watercolor illustrations, characters once again strike just the right pose to convey a maximum of information with a minimum of artistic sweat. This book is best suited to older preschoolers or beginning readers ready for a transitional-length story that is in between tidy picture-book tales and more complex chapter stories. Amusing and heartwarming, it will leave Willems's fans totally satisfied.--Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

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