by Else Holmelund Minarik, pictures by Maurice Sendak, published 1958
“If you can count,” said the big, hungry alligator, “maybe you will count my teeth. I have always wanted someone to count my teeth. I will open my mouth wide. Then you two can get in and count all my teeth. All the way to the back of my mouth.”
In this “I Can Read” children’s book, a young girl has the ideal way to deal with her two young cousins who are pinching, and fighting, and biting. Tell a tale about crocodiles, and see if it sense the message home!
Complete with superb Maurice Sendak images, with wonderful scowls, alligators, and frustrated cousins, we sail through an easy reader with delight. The true charm of the story lies again in the simplicity of the sentences and language. It’s a fun read-aloud children’s book, and like other Minarik/Sendak books, it aims for the new young reader, ready to master reading on their own. This one is a “Level 2” reader, meaning that some of the vocabulary and even the story line is slightly more complex.
For parents who are guiding new readers to find a book, you might want to refer to the “5 finger rule.” in order to find a “Just Right” children’s book. Basically, you have a child open a book to the middle and begin reading. For each word the child doesn’t know, have them put up one finger. If at the end of the page you have:
5 or more fingers up – too hard and challenging, save for later book
4 fingers up – very challenging
2-3 fingers up – just right
0-1 fingers up – too easy, vacation book
It’s also perfect to read this children’s book first with a child, so they feel comfortable with it. Then let them try it on their own. Make it fun, and kids will easily take to the pleasure of reading.