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Great Illustrated Books

Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

By Mo Willems

Balzer + Bray, 2011
Pages : 72
Suggested Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 9780062004000

These "6 ½ Surprising Stories About 2 Surprising Friends" will not surprise fans of Mo Willems. Each story is whimsical and funny, which is exactly what readers count on from this masterful author. Yet, as simple as the text and illustrations are, together they convey a world of feelings.

Amanda is a little girl who loves to read and whose best friend is a stuffed alligator.

She surprises Alligator with an unexpected "Boo!" Alligator realizes that surprise won't work twice. He hates to waste a perfectly good "Boo!," so he gives himself a "Boo!" in the mirror.

Alligator is bored and decides to chew on Amanda's head. She encourages him to read a book. Alligator picks out a book, settles into a chair, and starts to chew the book.

Alligator surprises Amanda with a tickle. Alligator feels a tickle on his tail that turns out to be his price tag. He's forlorn when he learns he was sold for a mere seven cents. "Why am I only worth seven cents!? Tell the truth!," demands Alligator. He adds: "When friends ask you to tell the truth, you tell the truth." This is just one of the friendly and essential truths that Willems slips into these stories.

Alligator is truly miffed when Amanda comes home from the zoo with a huge, fluffy panda that looks like it cost a lot more than seven cents. He wants to ignore Panda, but Panda is so much fun that they spend the evening dressing up and singing silly songs. Alligator makes a wonderful discovery. He has a new friend.

Willems has the gift of gently exploring the minds and hearts of children, and legitimizing their feelings. This book gives parents and teachers an opportunity to ask children how they feel when they have to wait. Is it boring? Frustrating? What would help the waiting times become more interesting and fun? How does it feel when a close friend seems to prefer a new friend? Can feeling inferior keep you from offering friendship?

Yes, the issues are deep. And yes, children struggle with them. Talking with a trusted adult is a lifelong gift to a child. This book is a perfect catalyst for conversation.

Reviewed by : F.H.

Themes : FRIENDSHIP. HUMOR.

If you love this book, then try:

Silverman, Erica and Betsy Lewin. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa. Harcourt Children, 2005.


Willems, Mo. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Hyperion Press, 2003.


Willems, Mo. I Am Invited to a Party! (An Elephant and Piggie book). Hyperion, 2007.


Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories. Roaring Brook Press, 2007.

Critics have said

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.
Publishers Weekly