Gabby and Gator by James Burks
*Graphic novel for elementary kids–1st grade through 5th grade
*Young girl and an alligator as main characters
*Rating: Gabby and Gator is a funny book that takes a look at a serious issue for kids–fitting in and bullying.
Short, short summary: In graphic novel form, James Burks tells the story of Gator and Gabby–an alligator and a girl that have trouble fitting in. Gator has had trouble since the beginning when his original owner had to flush him down the toilet because his mom didn’t want an alligator in her house. He’s lived in the sewer ever since, and he just can’t help himself–sometimes he eats people’s dogs. He gets so hungry. Then there’s Gabby. She doesn’t fit in anywhere, but she is the sweetest girl! (I just love her list of things to-do.) The kids make fun of her, and one boy in particular is a big bully, calling her a freak. She meets Gator in the park, and then the two become friends and have quite an adventure! You will love Gabby and Gator, laugh out loud, and cheer for them both!
So, what should I do with this book?
1. Children can look at Gabby’s to-do list and then make one of their own for a weekend day. What would they put on a to-do list? You can also have them create a to-do list for Gator. Students can pair up with other students and share their lists and explain why they put what they did on their to-do list.
2. Gabby and Gator deals a lot with bullying. In the book, several kids are mean to Gabby. This can make some children uncomfortable and open to talking about a subject they might not usually want to talk about. A book also can open a discussion about bullying because children can talk about the characters in the book and share feelings without having to talk exactly about themselves. How does Gabby feel when kids call her a freak? What does she do? How does she solve her problem? You can ask students if they’ve ever felt like Gabby and talk about that.
3. Gator is a very interesting pet. Pets are always a big part of children’s lives. Ask students to draw a picture of their pet and tell why he is unique or unusual. You can also have them fold a piece of paper in half–on one side they can draw a picture of Gabby and Gator. On the other side, they can draw a picture of themselves with their pet. Older students can write a paragraph about their pets or compare and contrast their pet to Gator.