Gabby is an outcast due to her passions for recycling, gardening, playing the tuba, and being a vegetarian. She is alone until a mishap with a bully introduces her to Gator, the ubiquitous alligator-in-the-sewer from contemporary legend. Gator is also an outsider due to his passions of hunger (for almost anything) and blogging in his technically accessible sewer. Both wish to be accepted for who they are, rather than to be part of a mindless assembly. Contemporary social issues such as bullying and intimidation are explored with humor and ingeniously handled, considering the temptation to have the ever-hungry alligator dispatch the bullies in a time honored fashion (for alligators).

The large panels and effective use of primary colors tend to scream that this is a book intended for young readers. However, as the text and expressive facial features of the characters offer a great deal to older readers, there is a slight confusion to the actual intended readership of this book. It is designated an all-ages title by the publisher so perhaps this confusion should not be an issue. It is the vibrant and animated illustrations that carry this story, from the flashback — in sepia tones at the beginning of the story explaining Gator’s presence and behaviour in the present — through to the almost, but not quite, predictable ending. (I was reminded of the picture book The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Tony Ross until the last turning of the page in this book.) The unveiling of a deepening relationship between these two disparate characters as they energetically and flamboyantly romp through the panels from page to page should delight all readers. And, after all, how can you not love an alligator whose early life flushing experiences have rendered him terrified of water?

Gabby & Gator
by James Burks
ISBN: 9780759531451
Yen Press, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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