Gator by Randy Cecil.

Gator loved being a carousel animal.  He loved the lights, the music and the wind, but most of all he liked the laughter.  But then times changed and children weren’t as interested in riding the carousel.  Without the music, lights and laughter, Gator fell deeply asleep.  When he couldn’t sleep any longer, he climbed off the carousel and went out into the world.  He ventures through a dark forest and across a bridge when he hears laughter coming from a zoo.  But he doesn’t find anything there to make him feel welcome.  Just when he is about to despair, a man with a small boy recognizes him from the carousel.  As he leads the man and boy back to the forgotten amusement park, a crowd starts following them.  The laughter, light and music are back!

This is a lovely picture book that speaks to the fact that children still enjoy the old-fashioned pleasures of life.  Gator is a charming, whimsical figure with his wide eyes and hole in his heart.  This is especially true when he is contrasted with the real alligators at the zoo.  I also enjoy the rather strange looking humans in the story with their gangly arms and flattened heads.  The story itself shines here.  There is a sweet rhythm to the sentences where the wording reflects the mood of the storyline.  And the little button on the end of the book is simply lovely. 

Recommended as a lap book for children ages 4-7.  It will not project well to a group, but would work with a small class.  It is quietly amusing rather than rambunctious, so it would also make a perfect bedtime read.

Little Apple Goat

Little Apple Goat by Carolyn Jayne Church.

Little Apple Goat is an ordinary goat except she likes eating apples and other fruit in the orchard much more than she likes nibbling on laundry or grass.  When a large storm blew in and ruined the orchard, Little Apple Goat was very sad.  She watched the logs from the trees being hauled away but then cheered up as she thought of the wood heating the farmer’s house.  When spring came, Little Apple Goat notices some flowers over the hedge but doesn’t pay much attention until the blossoms are replaced in the fall by fruit!  Her spitting of seeds over the hedge as she munched has grown the farm a new orchard.

OK, so I do have some issues with the speed of the growth of the orchard and the fact that the flowers on the other side of the hedge bear no resemblance to apple trees or trees at all.  But with those quibbles aside, the book is completely charming.  The text is simple and flows nicely.  It is the illustrations which really make this book worth reading.  They are big, colorful and will project well to a large group of children.  Little Apple Goat and her friends are placed on bright colored pages and when the storm blows in the wind and speed of it are captured perfectly. 

Recommended as a read aloud for toddlers and preschoolers, this book will work well in story times about autumn or apples.  A perfect fit for this time of year.