Tuesday, May 8, 2018

If I didn't have you by Alan Katz, illustrated by Chris Robertson

Funnyman Katz teams up with illustrator Chris Robertson on a new picture book that will have both parents and children giggling.

Alligator Mike and his dad imagine what it would be like if they didn't have each other. Mike's dad could have a sports car! Mike could stay up all night and eat all the candy he wanted! Of course, as his dad points out, he wouldn't have to brush his teeth either - because he wouldn't have any. With each wacky idea, Mike's dad reassures him that he'd rather have him and they end up finding something they can both do together: dance like crazy! Now they just have to convince Mom that she'd rather have both of them than a nice, quiet house... or a custom-built sports car!

Robertson's art is full of toothy grins (except for the imagined toothlessness of endless candy eating of course) and silly surprises. My favorite was the water buffalo butler, with appropriate posters on the wall. Shades of blue and green predominate, keeping the theme of alligators throughout the book. There are lots of small jokes that kids will appreciate, like Mike playing "Swamp Craft" video games and having "Poke Gator" posters on his wall. In some ways the art is reminiscient of the classic Lyle books by Bernard Waber, with the upright alligators and there are several retro touches, like a stereo an LPs spread across the floor which kids may or may not pick up on.

Verdict: A funny and sweet book, a nice additional choice for storytimes featuring family or one-on-one reading with a child. The reassuring text doesn't stray into the overly sentimental and the wacky art will inspire kids to try their hand at making up their own silly options for what their life might be like in different circumstances. I would know your audience though; if you have a lot of kids with absent fathers it would be better paired with other titles showing a variety of families.

ISBN: 9781416978794; Published 2018 by Simon & Schuster; E-ARC provided by illustrator; Purchased for the library

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