Erin & Aidan Tyree

November 27, 2022

Does Mr. Plumbean Alligator Bite? (And other important questions.)

Dear Mr. Pinkwater-

One of the great joys of my son, Aidan, entering toddlerhood is that I can share with him my favorite books from MY childhood. Tonight we were reading The Big Orange Splot, and he asked if the alligator bites. Here was our conversation:

Me: I don’t know

Aidan: Ask.

Me: …

A: Ask.

Me: Ask who?

A: Ask Mr. Plumbean.

Me: Well, I can’t ask Mr. Plumbean because he’s pretend. But I guess I can ask Mr. Pinkwater. He’s real.

A: Ask Mr. Pink Wawa.

(…Then toward the end of the book, he asked if the neighbor’s house that was converted into a castle had SUVs driving inside. I don’t think SUVs existed when the book was first published, and the dimensions only looked large enough for a garage, but I had to concede I didn’t know for sure.)

Aidan: Ask Mr. Pink Wawa.

So. On behalf of Aidan, age 2.5, I’m writing to ask you:
(1) Does Mr. Plumbean’s pet alligator bit?
(2) Does the castle have SUVs driving inside? COULD it have SUVs driving inside today?

Erin Tyree

PS- About a year ago,  I wanted to spice up our bedtime stories so I brought out Guys From Space (probably my all-time favorite picture book), even though he didn’t even know what root beer was, let alone aliens. He did, however, know about cats, throw-up, and computer printers.
It took us twenty minutes to get past the dedication page.
…And then he wondered what happened to the cat. So we had to tell him the alien that drank root beer from his feet was a space kitty.

Daniel replies:

1. Of course the alligator bites, that is to say it can bite, it is capable of biting, but you have to ask why would the alligator bite? It seems to be a pet alligator, and happy to hang around with Mr. Plumbean. I think we can assume that Mr. Plumbean feeds the alligator, that is an important thing we do for our pets. Now I don't know exactly what Mr. Plumbean would feed his alligator, because that is not part of the story. However, by good luck I am the author of the story, so we can ask me what I would have shown Mr Plumbean feeding his alligator, if I had thought of it...and the answer is...frozen pizza, the kind you buy in the market, and heat up in the oven. So, the alligator gets all the pizza it can hold, and we can assume it will not bite anyone because it  is hungry. The other reason I can think of for an alligator to bite would be if it were angry about something. This alligator has a nice garden to live in, a nice Mr. Plumbean to keep it company, and all that pizza. I don't think it is likely to be angry. So the answer is, yes it could bite, if it had a reason.
2. Many castles, including very old ones built before there were SUVs, or any kind of transportation that went by its initials, have plenty of room for SUVs, trucks, buses, airplanes, and whales. Castles are big.