Did you know that there were alligator snapping turtles? I probably knew it but forgot. I was reminded in A Mouthful of Minnows. John Hare takes us on a journey of Alphonso the alligator snapping turtle to find some munches and crunchies for breakfast.
When Alphonso leaves to find a good fishing spot, he takes his special bait (the unique wiggly tongue piece that attracts minnows) and waits. It is not long until a minnow sees it and wants the yummy. But before a snack can be made, said minnow decides that this morsel should be shared, and leaves to find more friends. Who in turn come, but decide to keep sharing with others, including one special minnow of their school.
The story goes and takes a turn here. What I thought was going to be a lesson in greed (Alphonso should have eaten the mouthful when he had a chance) turned into a story of friendship and helping out the “little guy,” or in this case the little minnows. In a clever manner of teaching scientific facts about snapping turtles and the alligator snapping turtle especially, this fiction story is sweet and funny.
Hare’s illustrations are colorful, smartly detailed and help move the story along. The artwork is as much of a character as Alphonso and the minnows are. Included in an afterward, there is more information about these turtles. Everything comes together in a wonderful picture book format that is good for all ages and can be used in science classes as an introduction (especially for younger readers/listeners) or for a child who likes animals, or turtles particularly.