________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 17. . . .January 7, 2011


Mia, Matt and the Lazy Gator. (First Novels).

Annie Langlois. Illustrated by Jimmy Beaulieu. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2010.
64 pp., pbk., hc. & eBook, $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.), $4.95 (eBook).
ISBN 978-0-88780-936-1 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-88780-938-5 (hc.),
ISBN 978-0-88780-958-3 (eBook).

Subject Heading:
Alligators-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Natalie Schembri.

*** /4



Matt was not much help. He spent all his time sneaking away to call Eloise. Even when he was with us, his mind was elsewhere. It is really boring when your brother is in love.

But I didn't give up. I hung out at the pond, keeping Gabe company. I talked to him, explaining the situation and just chatting about this and that.

Annie Langlois' early reader Mia, Matt and the Lazy Gator portrays the story of dedicated and inspired child choreographer, Mia, who encourages Uncle Orlando's alligator, Nestor, to learn dance moves for a television commercial debut. Despite her twin brother's lack of enthusiasm for training Nestor, Mia remains devoted to the task of teaching the alligator to dance as the mascot for Uncle Orlando's Vita-Juice television commercial.

    Mia patiently and eagerly works with Nestor to ensure Uncle Orlando's television project is a success. Kindly singing and talking to the alligator to encourage progression, Mia remains optimistic that he will develop the dancing skills everyone wishes him to acquire. Langlois presents Mia's character in an extremely persistent light in contrast to the budding and relaxed romances that surround her. With Mia's brother Matt falling head-over-heels for her best friend Eloise, and Uncle Orlando's newly developing relationship with Maria, Mia channels her frustrations with young love into the training of Nestor. Mia does not lose sight of her goal to train the alligator, despite her family's lack of direct involvement with the task at hand.

    Mia, Matt and the Lazy Gator is an encouraging story for children to read because it represents the process of learning to carry out a goal and awaiting its outcome. Children can learn from the unwavering attitude of Mia to never give up on what they propose to accomplish in life by remaining positively persistent. The story results in Nestor's giving birth to 33 baby alligators and the family's coming together to orchestrate a choreographed hip-hop dance with the group of 34 gators. Through Mia's diligent effort, everyone can now celebrate. Thus, Langlois sheds light on how Mia's patient allegiance to the task was an ultimate success. Uncle Orlando's praise emphasizes Mia's dedication to Nestor: "Thank you for sticking to it, Mia. You never gave up."

    Langlois provides young readers with a positive example to emulate: a young girl whose commitment to a project is ultimately achieved and admired by loved ones. Even Mia is proud of her devotion to Nestor: "Then we raised our glasses and toasted me. It was about time they recognized my hard work and patience!" With the birth of the baby gators, an effectively choreographed dance, and the fundamental coming-together of family, Mia, Matt and the Lazy Gator bestows young readers with the hopefulness to reach their desired goals. I would recommend Langlois' early reader for both school and public libraries.


Natalie Schembri, a Masters student living in London, ON, is a firm believer and promoter of literature and lifelong learning.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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