Slate Picks (June 6, 2016)

A new release from the best-selling Brian Lies, Gator Dad is the kind of book that shows a father and children relishing simple activities and time spent together. (They just happen to be reptilian.) According to Rhonda K. Gould, chair of the Caldecott Award selection committee, it shows “the kind of childhood memories of dad that you hope you’ll be able to keep.” The dad here is often more playful and rambunctious than the kids—and Lies’ tongue-in-cheek humor makes it a fun romp throughout. —Jay Deshpande

BookPage Magazine, May 2016


Brian Lies’ oh-so-clever GATOR DAD (HMH, $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780544534339, ages 4 to 7) features a reptile father with a suitably wild parenting style.  After rousing his three gator kids out of bed and exhorting them to “squeeze the day,” Gator Dad prepares breakfast for his brood, flipping fried fish from pan to plate with panache.  Then it’s time to run errands, which entails whizzing around the supermarket in a cart and hitting the playground for a session on the swings (“I’ll help you try to touch the moon,” Papa promises).  At home, the gang builds a fort from the living room furniture.  But make no mistake—Gator Dad is in complete control.  By story’s end, his crew is bathed and ready for bed.  In his genius acrylic illustrations, Lies contrasts his characters’ gator-ness with their city surroundings, lending the story surreal appeal.  This is big fun for Father’s Day—or any day.

School Library Journal (reviewed in March/April issue)

PreS-Gr 2—A fun-loving and vivacious alligator dad embraces the tasks of the day with his three little gators in tow.  He knows how to make errands exciting and the little things in life robust.  Gator Dad sets off on a day of imaginative adventure through the grocery store, the park, and the neighborhood and even back at home.  Gator Dad's energy knows no limits, and kids will love seeing how he tackles the everyday occurrences in life.  The illustrations are colorful and fun, adding a great deal of humor to the story.  The hues are rich and vibrant, and the characters' expressions are full of joy.  The concise prose is lyrical but not rhyming.  "I'll be your raft on a sea of grass,/ a tree for you to climb. / I might even agree to do something / that maybe we shouldn't have done."  The content of the story will pull listeners in and keep them engaged.  VERDICT  This is great fun as a read-aloud, and early readers will enjoy the challenge of independent reading as well. —Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

Booklist (reviewed April 15, 2016)

 Gator Dad is one cool dad.  He and his three kids “squeeze the day,” eking out everything they can and pushing conventional limits to turn daily activities into exciting romps. Dad is both inclusive (“If something in the fridge has gone bad . . . I’ll let yousmell it, too”) and unorthodox, his methods resulting in the occasional mishap (such as an accidental dunk in a pond). Lies’ rich paintings add humor and are especially effective in capturing the gator kids’ gleeful expressions.  Scenes include quiet times, too, such as cuddling on the couch and goodnight stories.  Many of the illustrations spill across double-page spreads, making this a great choice for a read-aloud. This gator family seems to have an idyllic setup: there is no job or school to get in the way of their fun, and mealtimes, bath times, and bedtimes all appear to be drama free. When the book ends with Gator Dad’s charmingly offbeat invitation (“Let’s squeeze tomorrow, too”), young readers will be ready— Kathleen McBroom

Publisher's Weekly (reviewed April 8, 2016)

Lies (Bats at the Beach) urges readers to “squeeze the day” as he follows an alligator family’s at-home silliness (“If something in the fridge has gone bad... I’ll let you smell it, too”) and outdoor adventures. “I might even agree to do something that maybe we shouldn’t have done,” writes Lies, channeling the father’s perspective, as the gators tightrope walk across a fallen tree before tumbling into the pond below. Living room forts, cozying up during a thunderstorm, and bedtime reading are all richly illustrated in acrylic paintings filled with fun details to spot (the cereal aisle at the grocery store offers Mice Crispies and Deerios, for example). It’s a winning combination of warmth, humor, and heart. Ages 4–7. (May)  Reviewed on 04/08/2016

Kirkus Reviews (reviewed April 1, 2016)

 A gator dad and his three hatchlings "squeeze the day" they have together. The morning starts with Dad waking up the kids and feeding them a high-energy breakfast of pan-friedfish, tails sticking out of the breading. Then it's on to errands at the grocery store (in one of those carts that looks like a car) and some outdoor adventures at the local park: football, a seesaw, swings. While the start was uneven, from here on out, Lies writes with a just-right combination of lyricism and pragmatism: "I'll be your raft on a sea of grass, / a tree for you to climb. // I might even agree to do something // that maybe we shouldn't have done." Back home and dry again, they settle down with a book or perhaps "tear the house apart" building a fort out of blankets and couch cushions. This is a dad who will play dress-up and "teach you the sounds that all your toys make," a dad who will supervise tub time, hug you through a storm, robot you to bed, read one last book, and then look forward to more "squeezing" tomorrow. Lies' acrylic illustrations are filled with small details to notice, especially the labels on cans and boxes, but what is most evident are the feelings these four have for one another. Dads, squeeze the day with your own children just as this one does. (Picture book. 4-8)