A Girl and Her Gator: A Picture Book Review

A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan, illustrated by Tom MurphyOne day a girl named Claire
gets out of bed and finds a gator in her hair.
Being reasonable, Claire asks the gator (Pierre)
to vacate her head before people stare.
To which Pierre responds “Au contrair!”
explaining why any other girl would wish for a gator in her hair.
Such is the story created by Sean Bryan and Tom Murphy
in their second book where things get topsy turvy.
Now might also be the time,
to mention that it’s written in rhyme.

Joking aside, A Girl and Her Gator (2006) by Sean Bryan, illustrated by Tom Murphy is one of my favorite picture books of all time. I found it in the library where I work last year and have been hooked ever since. I read it to coworkers, I read it to the eight-year-olds that came to my read alouds, I read it to my friends. The point being that everyone–from that wide range of ages–thought the book was great. Sean Bryan’s writing is fantastic. You wouldn’t think there are that many ways rhyme “gator” but Bryan comes up with quite a few. The story, of course, is funny as Pierre tries to explain the benefits of having a gator in her hair to Claire. But by the end of the story it also shows readers that it’s not only okay to be different, it can also be really fun. A great message that I don’t think readers can hear enough.

As amazing as Bryan’s writing is, the words only really come to life with Tom Murphy’s illustrations. The drawings have sharp outlines and simple compositions (just the basic elements needed to convey the story) which are great for younger readers because the images are easy to decipher. The illustration style also makes it great to read aloud to a group because the clean images can be “read” easily from a distance.

I haven’t worked out how to use these elements to my advantage, but I also like that the book has a definite color scheme (pink, as the cover suggests) and that it spends so much time on what attire goes best with a gator (I say “pirate wear” though the authors disagreed).

I loved this book so much that I was thrilled when I found out that there was not only a prequel (A Boy and His Bunny from 2005) but also a sequel that was published in 2007 called A Bear and His Boy.

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