Written and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak
The alphabet theme: A family of alligators takes on the characteristics that each letter of the alphabet suggests.
Okay, I’ll admit it. This very short and silly book doesn’t have much substance and ordinarily wouldn’t have made the cut to be on my list, but I had this one when I was a kid so it gets in on the nostalgia ticket. Alligators are favorite subjects for alphabet books. An online search at my local library found seven different alphabet books prominently featuring alligators. But this one is my favorite.
Maurice Sendak’s charming illustrations show us this family of three happily making macaroni, entertaining elephants, doing dishes and wearing wigs. We also get to see them having headaches, throwing tantrums and quarreling with each other, so we get the full range of family dynamics. This book was part of the Nutshell Library, which also featured Chicken Soup with Rice, One Was Johnny and Pierre, which taught months, numbers and manners, respectively.
The X Factor: Mr. Sendak attacks it head on, by showing the youngest alligator painting X’s on the wall. He refers to it as ‘X-ing x’s’ and you can’t get more X than that.