You’re a CrocaGator was inspired by a comment made by my illustrator, Patti Brassard Jefferson, while discussing the illustrations for a new book of mine. I told her I had decided to use alligators, not crocodiles, as the characters in the book. She replied that she would need to study the differences before doing the artwork because she could not tell an alligator from a crocodile and referred to them both as “CrocaGators.”
I told her I loved the term and I wanted to use it somehow in one of my poems. That night I found the inspiration to write a poem about love and acceptance. The story line follows a crocodile, named CrocaSonny, who falls in love with a beautiful alligator he spots across the creek, named GatorSissy.
CrocaSonny and GatorSissy get together and form a mixed family like many others throughout the world today. This is especially true in America where due to the immigration of peoples from other countries we come from a wide variety and blend of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. In a way we are all “CrocaGators.”
Our own diversity creates social and family issues for both children and adults. My hope is that parents will share this children’s book with their families to promote awareness and discussion of issues our mixed society faces today. I hope it helps children realize that although we are all different and unique we are also very similar with a great deal in common. We can celebrate our individuality and still live together in harmony with God.
****In 2015 I won the President's award from the Florida Authors and Publishers for children's book of the year.****
For my second book, entitled "You're a Step CrocaGator", I decided to draw from my own life’s experience, so this book is based on a true story. I met my daughter Ashley when she was just five years old. You can call her a step daughter, but I never did. By the time she was seven, I had fallen in love and married her mother, Cindy.
I was a step child. My mom and dad divorced when I was ten, and my mom married the wonderful man who I had the pleasure of calling Pops for the rest of his life. He taught me how to be a man and also a step father. I was one of the fortunate kids who got more than a step parent; I got a father. Thank you, Ernie Silver. You are loved and missed and were appreciated more and more as I raised my own family.
In today’s society, we see many varieties of mixed marriages and “mixed up” families where step, foster or adopted children live with new parents and often new siblings. A friend of mine jokingly refers to his family of children as ‘mine, yours and ours.’ These family mergers can present difficult issues for both the children and adults. My hope is that the You're a Step CrocaGator children’s book will be a parental tool. Parents can use it to help convey their explanation of this family issue and show children that there are solutions which result in such a thing as a happy ending.
For my third CrocaGator book I decided to tackle the issue of bullying. "You're a Bullied CrocaGator" follows the events that transpire after GatorSissy and CrocaSonny’s twins get bullied at school because they are a little different as CrocaGators. The parents respond to the bullying by first reassuring the twins that they are loved and adored and then they role play with the twins in order show them how to deal with bullies. The story takes an interesting twist when the head bully, Tator the gator hater, is rescued from certain death by the twins and Tator realizes that when someone saves your life they are not so bad anymore.
I myself witnessed very cruel bullying treatment to a handicapped girl named Sharon in my school class. Various kids would pick on her and make fun of her unusual behavior and looks. I saw her in tears on several occasions after being bullied but like so many other kids I did not do enough to help her.
Can you imagine what she went through? First to be born handicap and then to be taunted for it. Please don’t stand by and watch bullying because when it comes to bullying if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. I’m sorry Sharon, I wish I had done more to help you; maybe by dedicating the book to you I can partially make up for it and hopefully help the next person that is getting bullied.
My hope is that You're a Bullied CrocaGator children’s book can be a learning tool to help parents convey their explanation and solutions for this important issue and show both the bully and the bullied how to cope with this difficult problem.
I intend to use the “CrocaGator” in a series of books to address childhood and family issues. In the near future be on the look out for books about: a baby CrocaGator, a handicapped CrocaGator, CrocaGator goes to school, CrocaGator birthday, CrocaGator gets peer pressured and CrocaGator learns about safety, to name a few. I have written nine books to date. You can read them all by clicking the tab for Kenny's Poems.
Let me know what issues the CrocaGator can explore for you by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org..
Note: In reality crocodiles and alligators can not mate as they are not from the same species; they are as different as a lion and an elephant. They have not had a common ancestor for 65 million years so you won’t be seeing any CrocaGators outside of this book.
Have a Happy CrocaGator Day!