Alligator at Saw Grass Road
written by Janet Halfmann; illustrated by Lori Anzalone
2012 (Smithsonian Institute/Oceanhouse Media)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
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Alligator is building her nest on a marshy patch in the Florida Everglades. She uses saw grass, cattails, and alligator flag to build a three foot tall mound. This will be tall enough to survive the floods from summer rains. After finishing the nest, she digs out a space to lay thirty eggs. Alligator goes back into the gator hole she built to keep an eye on the nest. Other animals are attracted to this spot and thus providing food for Alligator. Sitting still camouflages this sneaky creature as she awaits a chance at a meal. Other animals, like raccoons, will attempt to steal her eggs so she needs to stay close by to watch the nest. Being distracted by a snake, the alligator doesn't see a red-bellied turtle dropping her eggs into the nest. Now the turtle eggs will benefit from Alligator's protection and warmth as she lays on the eggs to keep them moist. After two months, noises arise from the nest. Tiny alligators and turtles emerge from their eggs. About nine inches long, the baby alligators will need to stay close to mama in order to survive. She carries them from the nest to the gator hole so they can begin swimming and find a safe spot she has created in the bank. They will stay with her for about 2 years until they are ready to go out on their own.
Alligator at Saw Grass Road is an attractive app that will entertain and teach young readers. The illustrations are engaging and the story is appropriate for young viewers. The technical aspects (finger swipes for page turns, taps for word pronunciations, etc.) work well and are easily manipulated. There are additional alligator facts in the back matter. This book will be valuable in primary classrooms as non-readers and struggling readers will have access to nonfiction via the "Read to Me or Auto Play" versions. One thing I would like to see added to future Smithsonian book apps would be a video of the animal in action. You can find this app for a reasonable $1.99 at iTunes.