- Craig Graziano
In Snip Snap! What's That?, an alligator crawls out of the city sewers and into an apartment building. The three children inside Room Thirteen hear it creep up the stairs. The book takes a moment to ask the reader, "Were the children scared?"
A booming "YOU BET THEY WERE!" quickly answers the question. This call-and-response pattern, alternating with rhyming text and many sound effects, makes Mara Bergman's suspenseful picture book a winning read-aloud. Lines such as "The alligator's mouth was wide. Its teeth were long. Its jaws were strong," allow children to easily explore both adjectives and the sounds within words.
Suspense is a key factor in the book. The alligator bites his way through the door, tail swooshing and lips licking. Each description is followed by the same question as before. The children hide and flee as the predator comes closer, until we see a two-page spread of only the alligator's smiling jaws. Will the children find the courage to defy this scaly terror?
Author Mara Bergman and Illustrator Nick Maland have collaborated on another picture book of wildlife intrusion. Yum Yum! What Fun! has zoo animals pop into a household kitchen looking for good things to eat. Another great reptilian tale along the same theme is Sylviane Donnio's I'd Really Like to Eat a Child, in which young crocodile Achilles has much larger eyes than his tiny stomach.
Snip Snap! What's That? is not for every child, but those who find pleasure within its chilling pages will ask for this alligator to visit time and time again.