Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Jennifer M. Potter (9781632172693)
Claude hatched out of an egg in a Louisiana swamp with his siblings. Unlike them though, he was white rather than green. His different color made him easy prey for predators in the swamp and his siblings also were uneasy around him. The owner of the alligator farm gave the little alligator to a special zoo in Florida. At that zoo, he was safe but all alone. He lived that way for 13 years until a museum in California wanted him to come and live with them. They had another alligator name Bonnie, but Bonnie did not get along with Claude and bit him in the foot. Afterwards, Claude had to have surgery to remove one of his toes and took weeks to recover. When he returned, he was alone again in his pen except for the snapping turtles, and then something wonderful happened.
This nonfiction picture book tells the story of the beloved white alligator who charmed museum-goers in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. The focus of the book is on Claude’s well-being and the care he received throughout his life to keep him safe. The need for him to have contact with other animals is also a feature as zookeepers struggle to provide that full life for him. Written in frank and simple language, this book nicely balances the amount of text per page, making it a book that can be shared aloud with preschoolers.
Potter’s illustrations offer a cartoon-like look at Claude and his life. Some pages like Bonnie eying up Claude before attacking him are menacing, while others are filled with a gentle joy as Claude finds animals he can live with. Claude pops on the page as a white creature, showing just how special and unique he was.
A friendly look at an interesting animal who found a home that was safe and supportive. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Little Bigfoot.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (9781646140053)
Elatsoe has the ability to raise the dead, though raising human dead is dangerous and filled with too much risk. She has though raised her dog back from the dead and he goes everywhere with her. Now Elatsoe’s cousin has been murdered. He came to her in a dream to tell her who killed him. Elatsoe and her family travel to Willowbee, a picture-perfect town where the man who killed her cousin reigns as the owner of the medical clinic and wealthy citizen. Elatsoe and her best friend begin to investigate Willowbee and this man, uncovering a sinister world of medical procedures, greed and the undead. They just have to stay alive long enough to figure out how everything fits together.
The author has created a debut fantasy novel that features a familiar American landscape that is imbued with magic of several varieties. The main character and her family use skills that come from their Lipan Apache heritage. Others use fey magic and travel via rings of mushrooms. Still others are vampires or psychics. It’s a rich tapestry of fantasy, centered on Native American culture. That tapestry is impressive on its own but adding to the appeal is a deep murder mystery as well as a facade that must fall. It’s a gripping mystery solved via sleuthing and magic.
The characters are marvelously drawn. Ellie is the main character, a girl deeply connected to her Lipan Apache heritage and who longs to explore her powers further. She is brave, determined and resilient in the face of a favorite cousin being murdered. Her best friend helps with research, showering her with texts as he learns more. The two of them together are funny and warm, just what the book needs to offset the grim mystery at times.
An incredible new voice in fantasy. Here’s hoping she writes many more! Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Levine Querido.