Reviews for Oliver and His Alligator

Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
Oliver is quiet, shy, and a bit short on bravery. Facing his first day of school, Oliver picks up an alligator at his local swamp to help him make it through those fraught first interactions. When directed to "munch, munch," the alligator helpfully swallows Oliver's teacher and his classmates to spare the boy further anxiety. Finally, alone in his classroom and rather bored, Oliver hears the sounds of fun coming from inside his new companion. Ready to embrace the joy of community, he comes up with an unexpected solution. Schmid gives a standard tale a new twist by using a carnivorous reptile, usually an easy object of fear, as a vehicle for courage and security instead. Oliver's fears will be easily accessible to his young audience, and Schmid (Petunia Goes Wild, 2012) uses solid but gently curving lines and light pastels to encompass both Oliver's glum trepidation and, later, his exuberant realization, giving the book a visual through line and a sense of happy fulfillment. A comfortable story to help ease young readers with their own transitions. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Oliver, anxious about school, brings an alligator along "just in case..." When things do get rough, the alligator snaps up the teacher and the other students. Hearing laughter and chatter from inside its belly inspires Oliver to rejoin the class. Pastel-pencil drawings in muted mint-green and lilac tones gently bring to life Oliver's nerves while lending levity to this common childhood fear.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 June #1
Going into the darkness beyond Petunia Goes Wild! (2012), Schmid enters the tongue-in-cheek metaphorical alligator/crocodile waters of Candace Fleming (Who Invited You?, illustrated by George Booth, 2001) and Joe Kulka (My Crocodile Does Not Bite, 2013). Oliver isn't too sure about starting school--will his "brave" be big enough?--so he stops by the swamp and picks up his own tough: an alligator. "Just in case things got rough." When he is asked his name by a lady (not his mom) and can't remember, two little words take care of the difficulty: "Much, munch!" The same happens to a friendly little girl when Oliver's answer gets stuck. A classroom full of noisy kids? Decorations that intimidate with all Oliver must learn? Not a problem for the now-rotund alligator. But now the problem is, "School is maybe kind of a little boring." But where is that singing and laughter coming from? And can Oliver solve his newest quandary? Munch, munch! The simple, spare pastel pencil and digitally colored illustrations masterfully use both white space and the page turn to add to the humor. Retro pinks, yellows, blues and greens highlight details in the otherwise gray-and-white illustrations, while the three stripes on the alligator (and his never-open mouth) give him an appealing, nonthreatening look. On the first day, both the light and the dark sides of kindergartners will go to school, their kissing hands clutching a stuffed alligator, self-confidence soaring. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 May #1

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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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

PreS-Gr 1--As the first day of school approaches, Oliver, a timid boy dressed in an oversize woolly sweater, isn't feeling very brave. He takes an alligator to school with him "in case things get rough." When he meets his teacher and she asks his name, all Oliver can say is "Munch, munch!" The alligator conveniently swallows her. Inside the classroom, Oliver finds a lot of noisy kids who make him nervous. He wonders if they will fit inside his alligator. To his relief, they do. Alone in the quiet classroom, he waits for school to begin, but then he hears singing and laughing. Inside the alligator, the teacher and the other kids are having school. Without him. Once again, Oliver says, "Munch, munch," so he can join in the fun. The gentle pastel illustrations are infused with appealing school-related details and add humor to the story. The helpful alligator becomes rounder and rounder as Oliver tries to cope with his fear. The pink-cheeked little boy and his classmates are simply sketched but brimming with individuality. Young readers who are about to begin school will identify with the hero of this quirky story. For a more reassuring, family-centered look at first-day jitters, try Toby Forward's What Did You Do Today? The First Day of School (Clarion, 2004) or Lauren Child's I Am Too Absolutely Small for School (Candlewick, 2004).--Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA

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