Score: 95/100 (9.5 out of 10)
Author Conrad J. Storad continues to wow us with his incredible children's books and his undeniable, contagious passion for animals and wildlife!
We always come away from Storad's books being both entertained AND more educated, learning so much while having so much fun!
That's the way children's books should be.
That's the way education should be.
No book by Storad embodies that more than Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Classroom Pet... or Not?)!
This book mainly concerns the relationships between humans and animals, and which animals are appropriate to keep as pets and which aren't.
This book follows Mrs. Nichols's second-grade class and covers many of their fun, interesting, and, at times, exotic animal including a gerbil named Sue (AKA “Snoozer”), a cat named Nat, numerous goldfish, a bearded dragon, two leopard geckos, and even a red tarantula named Lolo!
This is clearly a class (and a teacher) that appreciates animals! We wondered what it might be like if Lolo got loose or if Nat got in and ate the goldfish. That would be a whole lot of shenanigans!
Sue/Snoozer serves as the narrator throughout the book, although in all honesty, she doesn't really talk or act differently from any other (human) narrator. She is cute, though, and does initially refer to humans as “two leggers.” Then, she kinda vanishes into the background and allows the rest of the tale to play out. She becomes a fly on the wall, which, you could argue, is what a proper narrator is supposed to become.
The real crux of this book is the incident in which some boys in the class bring a baby alligator to school! We have to admit, he's kinda cute! Seriously, this ravenous baby reptile is probably the cutest, most adorable thing in the whole book!
However, his introduction brings several things into question: Is it right to take an animal from nature? Is this a safe or appropriate pet to have/keep?
The children in the class, who are diverse and all interesting in their own ways, brainstorm different animals that are good to keep as pets and ones that aren't. These vignettes are really the highlights of the book! All of them are fun, and most of them are also quite funny!
Mrs. Nichols is able to explain to the students that the baby alligator might only be one foot long now, but could be over ten feet long in the future! It could come to see them as food rather than friends!
There's so much to like about this book. One of the best things about this book are the brilliant and vibrant illustrations by Alex Lopez, who once worked for Konami, 2K Games, and Sega! Like we said, both Sue and the baby alligator are adorable! One illustration in particular, on page 14, really stole our hearts! It's an illustration that really summarized the fascination and wonder the children have with the baby alligator while also showing off the baby alligator at its peak cuteness.
Lopez is really good at capturing the expressiveness of both the human and animal characters. There were times when we were looking at Sue's expressions and drawing comparisons to Disney animations!
The other thing that we greatly appreciated about this book is that it's more than just entertaining, it's educational. Following the story, there's an expansive bonus section in which the author teaches us about some of these different animals. We actually learned something! We didn't know that there were only two types of alligators in the world: American and Chinese alligators!
There's even an additional bonus section which presents some fun and interesting activities for teachers and parents to try with their kids!
What a great children's book!
Check it out on Amazon!