Invisible Alligators: Teaching us About the Importance of Learning

Time and time again students ask “When will we ever use this?” or similarly “Why are you teaching us this?” when faced with lessons or information they don’t understand or find difficult. Similarly children are constantly faced with new problems that they must overcome, and they learn from these experiences. This topic is addressed in “Invisible Alligators” by author Hayes Roberts, addresses this topic. The whimsical art style and animal characters appeal to young audiences, and the addition of familiar settings such as a school classroom or a cluttered bedroom help create ties between the story and the audience. The story, told through the perspective of Sari, a young monkey, explores how even a bad experience can leave you knowing how to approach or fix a problem in the future.
Sari, as a character, seems ambitious and studious, enjoying her maths class, and having her homework done early so she would be ready for school. These are traits parents tend to wish to instill into their children, as education is seen as an important part of life. Having gotten visibly upset when her homework was trampled by llamas, it is made apparent that of all the things that have gone wrong, she gets the most upset when her hard work is damaged. Having Sari be a monkey allows audiences from all backgrounds be able to relate to her, as she has no clear ethnicity, religious alignment, or clear social status other than a student.
Her morning routine is all messed up when she woke up early only to find the bridge of her dollhouse has been smashed, her toys scattered up and down the stairs, and her llamas in a frenzy, these issues are all causes of stress for Sari, as she repairs the bridge, picks up her toys so that no one gets hurt, and calms the llamas by herding them to a safe place. While it is unlikely that a child would be asked to herd a group of llamas, picking up her toys and fixing the broken ones, shows that Sari takes pride in what she has, and wants to take care of her possessions. This is yet another trait that parents frequently aim to pass onto their children, as it prepares them for caring for themselves in adulthood.
Themes that seem to occur throughout this book all seem to be concerning social Ideals, such as being calm in a dangerous situation, keeping an eye out for hazards to the health of others, and taking care of ones things and taking pride in oneself, these are things that society dictates as acceptable and highly desirable for a person to be able to utilize, and thus has come to “expect” (despite very few actually following all three of these).
The “invisible alligators” acting as the driving force behind the plot of the story, are not necessarily villains in the traditional sense, as they are aiming to instead teach others how to solve problems and better themselves, rather than cause harm, inconvenience or otherwise disturb the protagonist. The way that these alligators can be viewed as, is similar to the teachers that are constantly being asked “Why do we need to know this?” or “What do I do now?”, as through leading by example or in this case experience they help the protagonist prepare for the future. Being invisible, they could represent all of the people who have taught others how to overcome obstacles, without being recognized for this. The main alligator informs Sari of what it is the alligators do, and why they do it, but it is not until Sari actually applies the lessons she learned that she truly accepts them.
The socialization of children begins early, and while parents may not always realize it, some of the earliest introductions into what is good and bad comes from book characters such as Sari or other similar book characters, who represent what society views as right. In the same manner, villain characters show kids what is wrong and what should not be done, and often have traits that parents want to deter, such as a love for pranks, or overall meanness. Introducing these sort of role models early is a major part of development of ones morals, and through the telling of their stories it helps children to build social skills to be able to turn any situation to their favor. Even if it involves invisible alligators.

  1. Roberts, Hayes. n.d. “Invisible Alligators – a Free Story from Children’s Storybooks Online.” Invisible Alligators – a Free Story from Children’s Storybooks Online. Retrieved September 29, 2016 (http://www.magickeys.com/books/invis-allig/index.html).


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