First I want to welcome Jayne Moraski to the the Guardian Angel Publishing Family.
Congratulations, Jayne, on publishing your first picture book.
What made alligator lose his smile in the first place? For the answer, we must take a look at this “just so” story made up by Jayne Moraski and illustrated by Carl Kocich.
HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK begins in the murky past when Tadpole Frog and Alligator had no feet, only flippers. They lived in the water and Alligator smiled a lot. These two were friends and loved to play together until the Tadpole Frog became too boastful. He thought so highly of himself he didn’t realize Alligator let him win the race. Then eventually, Frog developed legs and hopped onto land, and his pride really took off. He sang, “Frogs are special. We are grand. We live in water and on land.”
This hurt Alligator’s feelings and Alligator cried and cried salty tears. He cried so much he turned the fresh-water swamp salty. The cypress trees had to pull away from the salty water.
Alligator’s friends, the little plover birds, asked the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit granted Alligator one wish. Alligator simply wanted to have legs. The wish was granted.
Now Alligator walks on land the same as Frog. And he SMILES! Frog wonders about that smile. And when he sees Alligator smiling that mysterious smile, he stops his loud croaking. There’s no boasting in Alligator’s presence.
The pictures by illustrator Carl Kocich are too pleasant to scare a little child. The early ones of the distant past give a dreamy cast to the atmosphere. And when Alligator cries, the reader feels sympathy for him. The bordering around each page is a bonus that adds to the beauty of the book.
Some of this story is made up, but the book also has interesting facts that make learning about swamps and amphibians (that’s what Frog is) and reptiles (Alligator is one) lots of fun. There are also suggestions for activities in which kids compare and contrast the two species in the book using textual clues. Some students in classrooms have already enjoyed doing the activities.
(A note about “just so” stories. That is the term Rudyard Kipling used when he made up pretend ways that animals changed from some original form to the one we know today. “The Elephant’s Child” or “How the Elephant Got its Trunk” is one of the best. I love this kind of story). Jayne calls her story a modern myth with a science twist.
HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK is published by Guardian Angel Publishing and is available here: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/alligator.htm
go ANGELS and go GATORS!