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Cover image for Alan's big, scary teeth
Alan's big, scary teeth

First U.S. edition.
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press, 2016.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
"Alan is very scary. He says things like 'I'm big, scary Alan! Fear my razor-sharp teeth!' But all is not as it seems. Alan, you see, has a very BIG (not-so-scary) secret"--Front jacket flap.
Reading Level:
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader 3.1.

Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.1 0.5 185684.

Accelerated Reader LG 3.1 .5.


Call Number
JP Jarvis

On Order



A goofy and lonely denizen of the jungle has just one talent -- scaring other creatures with his big, scary teeth! What would he do without them?

Deep in the jungle lurks Alan the alligator, descended from a long line of very scary alligators. He prepares carefully -- polishing his scales, brushing each of his big, scary teeth, and practicing his frightening faces -- then sneaks into the jungle to terrorize the jungle critters. ("I'm big, scary Alan! Fear my razor-sharp teeth!") But after a long day of scaring, Alan likes nothing better than to enjoy the crossword, run a warm mud bath, and take out his teeth, which nobody else knows are false. Until one morning, when Alan wakes up and finds that his teeth are gone! Without those teeth, he's just not very scary, and scaring is the only thing he knows how to do. Or is it? Witty, charming, and playful storytelling will have preschoolers cheering for Alan as he discovers a new way to fit in.

Author Notes

Jarvis is an illustrator and animator who has worked as both a record jacket designer and an animation director. This is the first picture book he has both written and illustrated. He lives in Manchester, England.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-Alan the alligator fancies himself to be the most fearsome creature in the jungle, but he's hiding a secret that could change his whole image. Every day, he polishes his scales, brushes his scary teeth one by one, and practices his frightening faces in the mirror. Then, he sneaks up on the frogs, monkeys, and parrots and scares them silly. At the end of the day, Alan luxuriates in his victorious scare tactics, but eventually he has to get real with himself; Alan has false teeth! He keeps his secret safe by storing his chompers in a special hiding place where Barry the Beaver eventually finds them by mistake. When Alan wakes up to find his teeth are missing, he attempts to launch his scaring spree as usual but is laughed at by the other animals. This makes him cry. Alan's wails continue through the night, and by morning all of the animals are on board to return his teeth, though they have drafted a few rules for how he can use them moving forward. Vibrant pencil, chalk, and paint illustrations colored digitally are preschool-friendly and maximize the humor in the text by providing little details for readers to delight in, such as Alan's taste in reading materials and his full line of grooming products. The simple yet effective expressions the animals display throughout the story are no doubt inspired by the author's work in animation, which contributes to this story's success as a read-aloud. This strong debut picture book will leave young listeners and librarians alike hungry for the author's next offering. VERDICT A perfect choice for storytime.-Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

With his gleaming white teeth, Alan the Alligator has the run of the jungle. "Bwa-ha-ha! I love being scary," he cackles as he stomps around like a latter-day Godzilla, while the other animals "eek," "squawk," and hide in panic. But Alan has a deep secret: his teeth are false. And after that secret gets out, a deeply embarrassed Alan ("My teeth! Wheah ah my teeth?" he shouts, gummily) doesn't get much sympathy from those he terrorized. A zebra can't change his stripes, but can a chastened alligator revamp his modus operandi? Jarvis (Lazy Dave) strikes a brisk, matter-of-fact tone that's spot-on for his overconfident, inconsiderate hero, and he ties up the loose ends of the story with a clever best-of-both-worlds twist. His pictures are even better: working in pencil, chalk, paint, and digital color, he gives each image a striking aesthetic density, with translucent layers, hand-drawn texturing, and lush color combinations redolent of batik and collage. They're gorgeous-and thanks to his accomplished cartooning, they're funny, too. Ages 2-5. Agency: Bright Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

A vain, toothy alligator learns a lesson. Alan is an alligator who thinks very well of himself. Every morning he shines his scales, sharpens his claws, and, most importantly, brushes his impressively "big, scary teeth" (each act of preening is shown sequentially). After his primping rituals, Alan scares the small jungle creatures by snapping his teeth and making various scary noises. Jarvis effectively communicates the jungle setting through a textured, layered green background. The big reveal comes at the end of Alan's fright-filled day, when readers learn his lovely chompers are false. Though this discoverygiven that Alan's love of his beautiful, dangerous teeth is so evidentmay elicit some laughs, the rest of the story falls flat. What remains is predictable: Alan's teeth are stolen, he's laughed to scorn by the creatures who previously feared him, and eventually has his teeth restored to him when he promises a sea change. His lisping, toothless speech is, sadly, played for laughs. A strength of the illustrations lies in the ability to convey emotion (notably Alan's sad silhouettes after losing his teeth). However, the humor is both lacking and reliant on stereotype, and the story's predictability makes it an also-ran. Lackluster. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Alan the alligator spends his days scaring the other jungle creatures with his mouthful of large teeth: He made the frogs leap off their lily pads, the monkeys tumble from the trees, and the parrots screech in terrible terror. But he does it all while harboring a big secret his teeth are false! When Barry the Beaver steals his teeth, Alan hopes that no one will notice, but the other animals screech in laughter. Eventually, they return the teeth on the condition that Alan will stop scaring them, and he instead finds constructive ways to use his teeth. His scaring days are far from over, however: the BIG, SCARY STORYTELLER has a surprise coming! Digitally colored illustrations in pencil, chalk, and paint portray Alan as more of a goofball than a menace, while the jungle animals blend into the background a good precaution with an alligator neighbor. The reformation of a bully is a familiar story, but Alan's version is nicely told, and the eventual outcome is especially enjoyable.--Enos, Randall Copyright 2016 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

But for their giant snouts, scaly green skin and tails sticking out of their adorable clothes, the gentle, house-dwelling crocodile family we meet in this Australian import is utterly human. As little Alfie's sweet mom tries to get him dressed, out the door and to the park, his ever-distractible ways will strike a chord with preschoolers and exhausted parents alike. (She's an example to us all, never once baring her teeth.) Walker's lovely illustrations mix soft watercolors and textile patterning. HOW TO FIND GOLD Written and illustrated by Viviane Schwarz. 32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8) There's nothing like a treasure hunt to get the imaginative juices flowing, as Anna and Crocodile find out when they hunt for gold in this beguiling tale by Schwarz ("There Are Cats in This Book"). But, for one thing, as Crocodile reports, finding it is "dangerous and difficult." For another, Anna's not even sure what gold is. As Crocodile tries to explain it and the two make maps and do an undersea dive, the banter is as cleverly constructed as Schwarz's layered, explosively colorful illustrations. ALAN'S BIG, SCARY TEETH Written and illustrated by Jarvis. 32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8) Alan's chompers terrify everyone, though they're a bit suspiciously plump and gleaming. Soon enough he's exposed to his fellow jungle residents - and to shocked readers - as a fake-toothed phony. Like many a bully, he's forced to reinvent himself. But life becomes more fun as his popularity grows, especially when he becomes a first-rate teller of scary stories. The witty Jarvis ("Lazy Dave") makes all the right moves, drawing Alan's jungle world with his usual loose, jagged charm. SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK) By Julie Falatko. Illustrated by Tim Miller. 32 pp. $16.99. Viking. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8) If you've become jaded about self-conscious characters in picture books yammering at you like overly familiar waiters, this clever debut will renew faith in the possibilities of fourth-wall breaking. A narrator describes Snappsy as lacking snap. He protests, and they begin a spirited back-and-forth, with Snappsy trying to wrest his story back. Trying to show he's a good guy, Snappsy throws a party. The narrator shows up: a chicken. (Uh-oh.) The ending still manages to startle. MY BABY CROCODILE Written and illustrated by Gaëtan Dorémus. Translated by Sarah Klinger. 52 pp. Enchanted Lion. $18.95. (Picture book; ages 5 to 9) A crocodile is out hunting when he finds a baby crocodile, who resembles him in shape - though if you look closely, it's a human child wearing knight's armor. The hair-raising tale of mistaken identity that follows slowly becomes a touching story of opposites meeting across the species divide. In time, boy and beast become not just allies but something like family. Dorémus's illustrations have a riveting, spiky beauty, with pages covered in fierce pencil strokes and nuclear-sunset colors. ONLINE An expanded visual presentation of this week's column at nytimes.com/books.