Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak

Alligators All Around is one of the quartet of tiny books in Maurice Sendak’s charming Nutshell Library, and probably my favourite of the four — although, that’s not to say that the other three are not equally wonderful.

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Starring an anthropomorphic family of alligators, the book takes us on an alphabetical and alliterative journey of their seemingly regular lives, beginning with A-alligators all around, which introduces the trio, followed by B-bursting balloon, C-catching cold, and so on.

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Thanks to the author’s whimsical sense of humour and quirky illustrations, however, the snapshots feel familiar and relatable, yet are kept from being remotely humdrum, and even pack a few astutely observed and heartwarming surprises. It’s also testimony to Sendak’s brilliance that these books still feel as fresh, original and relevant even after more than half a century — it’s hard to believe that they were first published in 1962!

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