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Kids Book Review – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth

THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH
Written by B. J. Lee
Illustrated by David Opie
(Pelican Publishing; $16.99, Ages 0-5)

 

There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth book cover art

 

You know that fab feeling you get when you hear a good joke and notice the corners of your mouth pushing out a huge smile? Well that’s also the feeling you and your children will get when reading B. J. Lee’s boisterous new book, There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth with illustrations by David Opie. Yes, all it takes is one hungry alligator to get the action going in this Florida-animals-themed variation of the beloved cumulative rhyme There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and reminiscent of kidlit fave, A Fly Went By.

Soaking up the sun and minding his own business, the titular gator finds a winged visitor has landed on his snout. You can guess what happens but still be teased to read on.

“There was an old gator who swallowed a moth.
I don’t know why he swallowed the moth.
It made him cough.”

 

int illustration from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth

Interior illustration from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth written by B. J. Lee and illustrated by David Opie, Pelican Publishing ©2019.

 

int art of pelican from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth

Interior illustration from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth written by B. J. Lee and illustrated by David Opie, Pelican Publishing ©2019.

 

Gator then goes on to swallow a crab (I mean it did give him a jab!) And the slew of Sunshine State creatures eventually eaten also includes an eel, a ray, a pelican (see above), a panther, and a manatee. Opie’s illustration of ALL the animals squished inside gator’s stomach is spot on and one of my faves, but the one above where there’s still some room gives you a good idea of the vibe going on. While reading the book, be sure to take note of the expressions and body language depicting how no one wants to be anywhere near crab’s pinching claws.

 

int illustration from There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth

Interior illustration from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth written by B. J. Lee and illustrated by David Opie, Pelican Publishing ©2019.

 

You may think that when the gator swallows the shark his tummy will be full, but no, he and Lee don’t stop there and that’s exactly why the (belly) laughs will linger with every page turn. What a humorous way to learn about survival of the fittest in a Florida setting!

 

interior illustr from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth

Interior illustration from There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth written by B. J. Lee and illustrated by David Opie, Pelican Publishing ©2019.

 

This guy’s just greedy enough and silly enough to gulp down the entire lagoon which pushes him beyond capacity if you get my drift. In a series of hysterical illustrations that work wonderfully together with Lee’s terrific tale, it’s conveyed how totally stunned and slightly repulsed the ejected animals are. And if the above artwork doesn’t hint at a whopping “Get ready! I’m about to go gator-wild!” I don’t know what will!

Share this fun story with anyone you know who loves a rip-roaring read aloud and watch the grins grow along with the gator’s gut.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

 

 

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Necessity Breeds Invention

9781455615025Pecos Bill, perhaps the most famous mythical cowboy in American history, was the creation of Edward O’Reilly, when he worked as a writer for Century Magazine in 1917. Pecos Bill was not just your average cowboy, rather he was superhero who rode cyclones, roped entire herds of cattle all at once and shot the stars out of the sky.

Pecos Bill Invents the Ten Gallon Hat ($16.99, Pelican Publishing, Ages 5-8) by Kevin Strauss is a most entertaining western-style folktale for young readers. Pecos Bill is a cowboy with a handle bar mustache and great strength and abilities. But he has a problem, and he needs to find a resolution. Fast. Bill is tired of being hot from the burning sun, but he’s got cowboy sorts of things to do and must be outdoors driving cattle for hours on end. He’s disappointed when he discovers that moving a tree for shade, wearing a baseball cap, donning a fireman’s hat and even lassoing a storm cloud with a rattlesnake rope are all imperfect solutions to his problem. But one day, something happens to give Pecos Bill an idea to make him the ultimate cowboy hat that not only gives him enough shade, but also  offers some extra benefits that make life easier.

What I love about Pecos Bill Invents the Ten Gallon Hat is that the story is clever and humorous, and it features a very likeable cowboy superhero. If you think about it, there are not all that many Western books for the youngest readers. Even though the story is lighthearted and funny, it is the perfect way for children to be introduced to the notion that necessity breeds invention. Most inventions evolve over time, after a lot of mishaps and duds, just like Pecos Bill discovers. But with patience, brain power and hard work, things have a way of working out.

The  cartoon-like illustrations by artist David Harrington are bold and ultra colorful. They really add pizzazz to the superhero nature of the story, and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the details of each picture.

In addition to being entertained, I was pleased to learn that everything a cowboy wears suits a purpose – even a bandana, which protects the cowboy’s face from dirt that’s kicked up by the cows.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade


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