Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!
by Julie Falatko; illus. by Tim Miller
Primary Viking 40 pp.
2/16 978-0-451-46945-8 $16.99 g
The omniscient narration begins normally enough: “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.” After a bit more in this vein, Snappsy turns to the reader: “This is terrible!…Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?” So proceeds this book-length sparring match between the exasperated protagonist (“You’re an awful narrator. You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations”) and an offstage storyteller-foil who criticizes Snappsy (“The story is really boring now”), ignores his pleas to scram, and saddles him with unwanted idiosyncrasies, including a predilection for foods that begin with the letter P. The story’s meta aspect, the alligator’s rib-tickling madder-by-the-minute agitation, and the simple primary-color-avoidant illustrations outlined in black may all owe a debt to Mo Willems — but it’s still a pretty terrific book. It’s distinguished by Falatko’s ability to sustain the tension at length; by Miller’s savory palette, largely in underripe greens and purples; and by the unvoiced suggestion that when fiction is working well, a character can take on a life of his or her own.
From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.