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Book Cover: Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!)
Part of the Snappsy the Alligator series:
Editions:Hardcover: $ 16.99
ISBN: 978-0451469458

Illustrated by Tim Miller, Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), published by Viking Children’s on February 2, 2016. Snappsy is an alligator whose ordinary day is interrupted by a meddling narrator who insists Snappsy is looking for innocent forest creatures to devour and is obsessed with food that starts with the letter P.

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Publisher: Viking Children's Books
Reviews:★Publisher's Weekly on Publisher's Weekly (starred review) wrote:

As the title makes clear, Snappsy, a skinny alligator who wears a pink tie, is not a happy camper. He is being trailed by an unseen narrator who alternates between drumming up drama (at one point accusing Snappsy of liking to “eat tiny, defenseless birds and soft, fuzzy bunnies,” even when it’s clear that mild-mannered Snappsy shops at the supermarket like everyone else) and falling down on the job. “You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations,” points out Snappsy. So who is this narrator, and what does she/he/it want? Meta-stories often have sour undertones—the joke is ultimately on somebody—but not this one. Snappsy is both highly civilized (he dons a fez while reading) and nobody’s fool, and the motivation of the narrator, when finally revealed, is almost touching. This is the first book for both Falatko and Miller, and it’s an excellent one—Falatko’s writing nimbly zigs and zags around Miller’s bold, goofy cartoons. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Danielle Smith, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)

★Kirkus Reviews on Kirkus Reviews (starred review) wrote:

Picture Rita Skeeter as a chicken for a general sense of this book’s goofy take on intrusive narration and one-sided reporting.

The tale of Snappsy the alligator hits a snag from the start when his trip to the grocery store is interpreted with inaccurate (according to Snappsy) and increasingly nasty commentary. While the authoritative narrator presents Snappsy as a vicious predator, readers who look at the pictures and hear Snappsy’s objections to this misrepresentation will see another side to the story. "Snappsy looked hungrily at the other shoppers,” intones the narrator, while the illustration reveals the alligator mildly smiling and waving as he studies a jar of peanut butter. Eventually Snappsy decides to throw a house party, more to please the narrator by making the tale sound interesting than anything else. And who just happens to come knocking at the door in a party hat? None other than the narrator, ready for the chicken dance. What sets this apart from standard-issue picture-book metafiction is its commentary on selective reporting. Unreliable narration is normally the purview of the novel, but this picture book asks elementary-age readers to question the truth of what they’re being told. Illustrator Miller’s style is cartoonish, showing how background characters are initially swayed by the narrator’s erroneous charges and then won over by Snappsy’s charisma.

More than merely meta, Snappsy is clearly a book, if not a protagonist, with bite. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-46945-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online: Nov. 17th, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2015

★Terry Hong on Booklist (starred review) wrote:

If only Snappsy the alligator could write his own book! Instead, a narrator is telling the story all wrong. Snappsy’s just hungry—not “draggy” and “baggy.” “Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?” the alligator complains. In spite of ongoing protests, the narrator continues to distort Snappsy’s intentions—for example, making him out to be a vicious predator when all he wants to do is shop for groceries. “Oh, you are really cheesing me off,” Snappsy snaps, putting a “No Narrators Allowed!” sign on his front door. When the narrator insists that the story is boring now, Snappsy feels pressured into throwing a party, since no amount of arguing will make the persistent narrator quit with the passive-aggressiveness. And lo and behold, such good fun is had by all that the narrator (revealed to be little brown turkey) asks herself over and concludes with one last bit of hopeful narration: “They were really looking forward to Snappsy throwing parties like this every week.” Falatko’s debut picture book is a truly laugh-out-loud, mischievous romp, made gleefully goofier by Miller’s straitlaced, deadpan animal characters. Don’t dismiss this as fluff, either, for there are clever undertones about the pitfalls of exaggeration, misrepresentation, even appropriation. Well, that’s Snappsy for you—always up to something.

Nell Beram on Horn Book wrote:

The omniscient narration begins normally enough: "Snappsy the alligator wasn't feeling like himself." After a bit more in this vein, Snappsy turns to the reader: "This is terrible!...Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?" So proceeds this book-length sparring match between the exasperated protagonist ("You're an awful narrator. You're just describing what you see in the illustrations") and an offstage storyteller-foil who criticizes Snappsy ("The story is really boring now"), ignores his pleas to scram, and saddles him with unwanted idiosyncrasies, including a predilection for foods that begin with the letter P. The story’s meta aspect, the alligator’s rib-tickling, madder-by-the-minute agitation, and the simple primary-color-avoidant illustrations outlined in black may all owe a debt to Mo Willems—but it’s still a pretty terrific book. It’s distinguished by Falatko’s ability to sustain the tension at length; by Miller’s savory palette, largely in underripe greens and purples; and by the unvoiced suggestion that when fiction is working well, a character can take on a life or his or her own.

Julie Danielson on BookPage wrote:

Much has been made lately of the so-called (and very popular) “meta” trend in picture books, which feature intrusive narrators who acknowledge that the action is happening in . . . well, a book. Snappsy the Alligator is one such story, and it’s likely that, when 2016 is over, we’ll look back on it as one of the funniest picture books of the year. It definitely kicks off 2016 in high spirits.

The main character, Snappsy, is doing one thing, and the narrator is telling a story that altogether does not jibe with Snappsy’s actions or feelings. Furthermore, Snappsy is aware of the narrator and talks back to him (and readers). For instance, in the beginning, we’re told Snappsy isn’t “feeling like himself,” yet Snappsy turns to the reader to say, “This is terrible! I’m just hungry!” And so it goes, with very funny results. At one point, commenting on the picture-book form itself, Snappsy says in desperation to the narrator, “You’re an awful narrator. You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations.” Eventually, Snappsy snaps, echoing the book’s title: “You know what? I did not ask to be in this book!” The narrator talks Snappsy into throwing a party and, in the end, appears on his doorstep.

Julie Falatko, never getting in her own way with too much cleverness, charms readers with her hapless but sincere main character, who is on to the unreliable narrator from the very first page. This is the picture-book debut for Tim Miller, whose cartoon illustrations channel James Marshall in fresh and exciting ways, and whose deadpan humor is spot-on—especially the moments where Snappsy stares incredulously at us or the out-of-control narrator’s disembodied voice. The book’s cover varies from the jacket—be sure to take a peek—and the difference is laugh-out-loud funny: Snappsy is just trying to sleep, looks at readers and says, “Hey! Do you mind?”

It’s utterly irresistible, and I hope we see more from Snappsy in the future. (We’ll have to talk to the narrator about that.)

Nicole Lamy on Boston Globe wrote:

Snappsy the Alligator has a big problem, one with feathers. A peevish chicken is narrating his story in a huff. But that’s a major spoiler. On page one of “Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!),” there is no chicken to be found. Instead the story starts with a fairly ordinary setup that gives no hint of the meta pleasures to come: “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself. His feet felt draggy. His skin felt baggy. His tail wouldn’t swish this way and that. And, worst of all, his big jaw wouldn’t SNAP.”

Sounds standard, right? Readers might think that the book is the story of how an alligator gets his snap back, a kind of Alligator and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, maybe. The first illustration shows Snappsy, listing and stricken, his long face made longer by distress. Careful readers will notice a disgruntled ladybug wearing a fedora on a leaf in the corner and a pair of bibliophile ants at the base of the page. They give depth and edge to the Looney Tunes look of an agitated alligator in a dickey and a tie.

The first big sign that this book is not ordinary comes on page two, when Snappsy takes the opportunity to address readers directly: “ ‘This is terrible! I’m just hungry! Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?’ ” Suddenly it’s clear that the book at hand is part of the mini-trend of meta picture books (“The Book With No Pictures”; “A Perfectly Messed-Up Story”).

This book, however, is a meta diversion with a literary bent: The whole story is a silly, clever introduction to the idea of the unreliable narrator. Most readers — young and old — are not used to a story’s protagonist and narrator duking it out on the page. And Snappsy gives as good as he gets. He calls out the narrator for being uncharitable and boring. The narrator retaliates by labeling him as bloodthirsty and by making fun of his house. By the end, once the chicken is unmasked, kids will have a peek at how stories are made and an idea about how to start making up stories of their own.

Maria Russo on New York Times wrote:

If you’ve become jaded about self-conscious characters in picture books yammering at you like overly familiar waiters, this clever debut will renew faith in the possibilities of fourth-wall breaking. A narrator describes Snappsy as lacking snap. He protests, and they begin a spirited back-and-forth, with Snappsy trying to wrest his story back. Trying to show he’s a good guy, Snappsy throws a party. The narrator shows up: a chicken. (Uh-oh.) The ending still manages to startle.

★BCCB on Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review) wrote:

Even in the era of Facebook, it was bound to happen: a picture-book protagonist does not want his existence to be documented into a story. As Snappsy the alligator shops, cleans, and preps for a party, he’s plagued by a narrator who follows his actions while also trying to make them seem more exciting (“What was he doing in there? Was he making crafty plans? Was he roasting innocent forest creatures that he already had stored in his freezer?”). It turns out that the narrator, a humble chicken, is actually angling for an invitation to the party; once she’s there, she has such a good time that she attempts to guilt Snappsy into making it a regular thing. While the adversarial relationship between narrator and protagonist has appeared before in books such as Watts’ Chester (BCCB 11/07), it’s unusual to have the protagonist, not the narrator, as the reliable reporter, and the narrator’s eventual joining of the cast is a comedic surprise. Snappsy’s irritated and valid criticism via speech balloon (“You’re an awful narrator. You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations”) adds opportunity for readaloud comedy. Digitally colored ink art, often in tidy panels, balances Snappsy’s spare, tie-clad green form with lively backgrounds filled with exploration-worthy detail: the little girl looking up in alarm from her Snappsy book; the dotted line faithfully tracing Snappy’s return journey from the grocery store; Snappsy’s taste for lounging in a fez. Overdocumented youngsters may feel some sympathy for Snappsy, and audiences in general will giggle at his battle with the overexcited narrator.

Katie Cunningham on School Library Journal wrote:

According to the narrator, “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.” But Snappsy has a different point of view: “This is terrible! I’m just hungry! Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?” So begins the clever, eponymous, debut picture book by author Julie Falatko with pictures by Tim Miller. As Snappsy attempts to go about his day, he gets increasingly annoyed as he engages in a verbal tug-of-war with an intrusive narrator. Unjustly portrayed as a big, mean predator rather than the harmless, grocery store-shopping alligator that he is, Snappsy tries to reason with the pesky and persistent narrator to no avail. Metafiction at its best, Snappsy, the Alligator positions young readers to question the truth of what they read in print and what they are told. The witty banter is humorous for children and adults alike and is ripe for repeated read alouds. Tim Miller’s cartoonish illustrations reveal Snappsy’s full range of emotions as he tries in vain to go about his normal day. The surprising ending will leave readers smiling at the trickery that ensued all along.

Click the review link for more ideas about ideas for using Snappsy in your classroom.