Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!)

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written by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller (Viking, 2016)

Picture book making is sort of a solitary thing, except when it’s not. Along the way, you gather up people who are smarter and funnier, and your writing becomes more yours by surrounding yourself with others. It’s an odd phenomenon, closely cheering for your competition, and yet: that’s how this whole thing works.

The first time we emailed was because I wanted to feature her Little Free Library on Design Mom. 

The first time we ever spoke on the phone was when she called to say, “BOOK DEAL. Book deal!” And that’s about all we said.

The first time we ever hugged in real life was a few weeks ago in Boston.

The first manuscript I ever read of hers became this brilliant book.

A friendship is made up of a bunch of firsts, and this is a pretty spectacular celebration.

Now that it’s a finished thing, it’s hard to remember those first typed words that came through my email. But back then, it wasn’t complete. It was only this hilarious half, waiting for illustrations and design and the funniest case cover of them all.

Its meta-ness is hinted at there on the cover, with Snappsy himself holding a book featuring…himself. And if those eyes don’t scream anxious alligator-ing, I’m not sure what would. The invitation to this book already feels like barging in on something, and that is a remarkably tense place to start.

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Endpapers with Snappsy’s ho-hum daily activities, of course.

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Inside we have a narrator, unseen and incorrect. According to Snappsy, that is.

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Snappsy gets speech bubbles while the narrator’s voice captions illustrations in blocks. As a professional read-aloud-er, cues like this are key for voicing characters in a story.

And when Snappsy protests, the narrator amps up his game.

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Tim Miller is a natural at populating these environments with clever details. The one above, my favorite. What is that girl reading?!

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There’s an ever-increasing zoom on Snappsy’s splinter-laden shed here that reminds me a little of that viral video with the cat. You know the one. It’s an epic moment in three panels here.

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But then, our hero loses it. I’m pretty sure this is the best use of a feather duster in a picture book ever.

What happens then changes the design, changes the story. We see Snappsy, framed through the narrator’s eyes, and yet, he’s quiet. Just for a bit.

Of course I won’t spill the beans on this one for you, but don’t forget to study those back endpapers. And the case cover.

Because really, this is the story of the beginnings of friendship. A bunch of firsts between two friends who didn’t know they were looking for each other. That’s something familiar.

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One Comment

  • Posted February 2, 2016 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    CARTER! You are the best best best. I love you so much!!