The Winner and Still “Chompion” (Book Review)

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Halfway through “Chomp Goes the Alligator,” I was growing a wee bit anxious for all of the poor animals being grabbed, one by one, by the hungry alligator.

By the final page, I was pleased not only with the happy ending (apologies for the spoiler; whatever you do, don’t show your toddler this review) – but also just the all-around amazing mechanics behind this book. It’s a die-cut marvel but doesn’t sacrifice the story for looks.

 The “touch-and-feel” component of this book is irresistible to young fingers.

The “touch-and-feel” component of this book is irresistible to young fingers.

It teaches numbers and counting, all with a fun cadence. It teaches animals. It teaches textures. And it even teaches manners – all with tactile/touch-and-feel experiences; pop-ups; cutouts that somehow tie two very different images/pages together; and a “tab” you can pull to make the alligator's mouth go up and down with every “chomp, chomp, chomp.”

 It took our kid a couple tries, but she quickly got the hang of pulling this tab to make the alligator’s mouth move. Now she’s a pro and smiles the whole time she does it.

It took our kid a couple tries, but she quickly got the hang of pulling this tab to make the alligator’s mouth move. Now she’s a pro and smiles the whole time she does it.

This book is so full of layers and lessons, I found myself asking “Where has (author and illustrator) Matthew Van Fleet been my whole (parenting) life?”

Turns out he’s been creating books of this caliber for over 20 years, but “Chomp Goes the Alligator” was my first introduction to his work. My husband and I love it but – and I suppose this is important – our 2-year-old loves it, too. She’s requested to read it more than a dozen times since we got it, and she LOVES to work the “chomp, chomp, chomp” mechanism all by herself.

I really can’t say enough good things about this one. So many layers. So much learning. So much fun. Highly recommended for ages 2 and up. 

A word of advice to parents: you might want to store this away from toddlers still working on impulse control. Our daughter — who lists “ripping paper” among her hobbies — can’t seem to resist thumbing through this one on her lonesome, which was bad news for the pop-up page at the end. We’ve repaired it to the best of our ability, and the tear hasn’t prevented her from requesting to read it. It’s in our regular rotation, and I suspect it will be for years to come.