Boy Who Loved Alligators, The

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9780689318764: Boy Who Loved Alligators, The
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With the death of his grandmother, Jim, an orphan, is sent to live with Billie, a distant relative and the divorced mother of two girls, and, feeling unwanted and ugly, struggles to adjust to his new family.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Since his parents died when he was a baby, Jim--13 and woefully homely--has lived with his grandmother in Tampa. When she dies, the family meets to parcel him off. Things look grim until Billie relents. Despite ``a house, two mortgages and no man,'' she'll take him home to Orlando--but only for the summer, until her two daughters return from visiting their father. Jim resolves to make himself indispensable, but life has taught him some harsh lessons and he hardly dares hope. He settles into a routine of housework, mowing lawns, and babysitting and meets Mr. Morrison, who likes Jim to read his mail to him, and his dog Trudie. Mr. Morrison tells Jim that the alligators in a nearby lake will eat dogs and warns him never to feed them. But to Jim- -yearning for a confidante, desperate to control his own life, quick to identify with a creature as ugly as he thinks himself to be--feeding a gator is irresistible; the worst is inevitable. Still, he weathers the tragedy and moves toward being adopted by Billie and accepted by her daughters. The quiet story realistically captures Jim's pain and his ultimate relief; a revelatory moment when he first sees a photo of his parents is especially poignant. (Fiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-6-The deep desire for a family is what drives Jim, a 13-year-old orphan. Homeless once again when the relative he has been living with dies, he eavesdrops as the few people at the funeral argue about what to do with him. His distant cousin Billie, a hard working, struggling single mother, takes the boy home to Orlando "just for the summer" she keeps warning, while her girls are with their father. Jim is sure, though, that he can make a permanent place for himself with her. While his relationships-with Billie, with an elderly neighbor, with a new friend-come alive, his emotions are too often relegated to dry, narrative passages that don't serve this otherwise sympathetic character well. His motivation for feeding the neighborhood alligator, a none-too-subtle metaphorical move, is questionable; Billie's change of heart about Jim, while satisfying, is surprising in a character whose sensitivity has barely surfaced. A useful bibliotherapeutic tool for children who've been set adrift by the social service system, but an additional title for most general collections.
Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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