Tuesday, November 20, 2007

review: Alligator Arrived with Apples

Alligator Arrived with Apples: a Potluck Alphabet Feast by Crescent Dragonwagon. illustrated by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey. 1987; Aladdin, 1992 (978-0-6897-1613-3) $6.99 pb

"A feast for you/a feast for me/A feast that goes from A to Z!" To celebrate Thanksgiving, Pig and Pig II have set the table for an entire alphabet of animal guests, all of whom bring goodies for the vegetarian feast. (Turkey is a guest, rather than the main course.)

Starting with some rather labored verse--"A feast for us/and several guests/A feasting full Thanksgiving fest!"--this book thankfully moves quickly to an alliterative alphabet section, from Alligator Arriving with Apples and Allspice, to Zebra Zipping over with a Zaftig Zucchini. Each animal comes in a different vehicle: Cat looks especially cool swooping in on a hang glider, while Orangutan's broken leg has him in a wheelchair. And after each arrival, Pig and Pig II and the other guests have fun cavorting with the newcomers, sliding down Elephant's trunk and enjoying the juggling of a Jackal from Jerusalem.

There are some textual oddities here that will annoy readers who like strong consistency. A few of the animal aren't named, so you have to check the name cards on the set table at the beginning of the book to identify "Numbat" and "Quetzal." There's no animal (or food) for "X," which isn't too surprising, but also none for "R," which is inexplicable. The very bright and animated illustrations make up for a lot, however, filled with lively scenes to explore. Aruego and Dewey use their usual brightly glowing watercolors, but put the complicated action scenes against simple backdrops, giving a light, airy look that suits the snappy text. (2-6)

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