Today, I want to talk to you all about an adorable story of alligators and proclamations.
AAAlligator by Judith Henderson tells the story of a boy who finds an alligator in need of help in the woods near his home. The boy decides to feed the alligator, so naturally, they become good friends. When the boy takes the alligator into town, the Mayor declares there can be no alligators. The boy explains that the alligator is hungry and he could eat the townspeople’s leftovers, but the mayor is adamant. However, the community comes to their own conclusions. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that our story has a happy one (well, for almost everyone anyway).
Paired with amazing illustrations by Andrea Stegmaier, this book gives us the perfect opportunity to discuss civil disobedience, which can be an extremely effective way to address injustices in our communities. I don’t know about you, but I intend for my child to question the rules around him. Asking questions is the key to critical thinking, and critical thinking is an invaluable life skill. I plan to encourage it very early.
I want to teach him to question before he decides where he stands on an issue. Does this rule exist to keep the town safe? Or is it someone’s bias written into a proclamation? If this community can come together to feed an alligator AND eliminate their food waste, why shouldn’t they?
However, because it is Thanksgiving week in the US and we are currently living in the midst of a global pandemic, I will address the elephant (or alligator) in the room. I couldn’t help but think of COVID deniers and anti-maskers during my second reading.
While I wholeheartedly believe that civil disobedience is a necessity for positive change in our world, I believe we have a duty to participate responsibly. I really appreciate books like this one because it gives us the opportunity to encourage our children (and ourselves) to ask the difficult questions. Are we defending someone’s humanity? Are we making our community a better place? Are we fighting for the little guy? Are we being responsible? Or are we upset because we have to miss a holiday and wear cloth on our faces to keep our communities safe? Are we willing to put aside the health of our neighbors, friends, and family members so we don’t have to follow rules we don’t agree with?
I highly recommend AAAlligator if you would like to start these conversations with your children. You can purchase it at my Bookshop page or just about anywhere books are sold. (Please note: these are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through these links. This commission allows me to maintain this website and provide you with more content.)
I would also like to thank Kids Can Press and the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a review copy of this book. I have a feeling it will spark plenty of conversations with the young readers in my life.