December 4, 2015
Amanda and Her Alligator by Mo Willems
Amanda and Her Alligator
written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins
Amanda and Alligator are best friends. Unfortunately, Alligator gets left behind when Amanda goes out. When this happens, he paces and fiddles with his tale. Alligator is not very good at waiting.
Still he’s a good friend. When Amanda surprises him with a BOO!, he wants to surprise her back. But BOO! does work nearly so well when the other person is expecting it. Alligator has to think of something else. After all, he’s a good friend like that.
When Grandpa takes Amanda to the zoo, Alligator gets left behind yet again. He paces. He fiddles with his tail. He tries to eat a book. Finally, Amanda comes back but Alligator is pretty sure he doesn’t like the surprise she brings home with her. Panda is huge and fluffy and doesn’t look like he came from the sale bucket.
Alligator is still trying to reconcile himself with this interloper when Amanda announces that she’s leaving again. Grandpa, it seems, wants to take her to dinner.
Now Panda and Alligator are waiting together. The biggest surprise? He may be fluffy and cute, but he doesn’t like waiting either.
Again, I’m not going to give the ending away.
As always Willems’ illustrations convey a ton of emotion while being very simple. Like Knuffle Bunny, also by Mo Willems, Alligator is a stuffed animal. Willems’ doesn’t exactly say this but you get that feeling when you see him sitting in the corner of the room. But Willem respects Alligator too much to point out his stuffed-animalness. Alligator, after all, is very real to Amanda and to Willems. My favorite illustration is probably when Alligator chews on Amanda’s head. Seriously, it is silly and fun and you have to see it.
The book is divided into 6 1/2 stories. They call them stories. I would call them chapters. But that’s not important.
The design of this book is masterful with all kinds of little things that many people wouldn’t notice. At the beginning of the book, the end papers feature Amanda and Alligator. At the end, they feature Amanda, Alligator and Panda. This is a masterful stroke, because above all this is a book about friendship. It isn’t only about how to be a good friend but how to add friends.
Share it with the young reader in your life today.